HLC: Ljiljana Salim and Mirjana Paunović Not Victims of Organ Trafficking

The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has conducted an investigation into the deaths of Ljiljana Salim and Mirjana Paunović, wards of the Special Care Institute in Štimlje, Kosovo, and in response to the allegations of illegal organ trafficking, published in articles in Politika (11, 15, 16 and 22 November 2008), Večernje novosti (22 November 2008) and Kurir journals (11 November 2008), HLC has established that both of these women, who were living with severe mental disabilities, died of natural causes and were not victims of organ trafficking.

Ljiljana Salim [nee Jovanović], from Bor, was placed in the Special Care Institute in Štimlje on 12 January 1996. She was diagnosed with Oligofrenia. She was paralyzed. She passed away on 12 June 2003. Upon a Priština District Court Investigative Judge, Besim Kelmendi’s order [order no: 106/2003], international expert Dr. D. Morcillo conducted an autopsy on Ljiljana Salim’s body on 28 July 2003 in the Orahovac Morgue in the presence of the Kosovo Police Service (KPS). The autopsy report states that Ljiljana Salim died of natural causes. In the moment of death she weighed 20 kg. Employees of the Institute buried her at the Institute’s cemetery [Institute’s certificate on the burial of Ljiljana Salim].

Mirjana Paunović from Mali izvor [Zaječar Municipality] was placed in the Special Care Institute in Štimlje on 12 January 1996 together with Ljiljana Salim. In agreement with her brother Radomir Paunović and in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], she was transferred on 28 February 2002 [ICRC certificate on transfer] from the Štimlje Institute to Mali izvor. She passed away on 24 March 2003 in the Zaječar Medical Centre [official death certificate no. 203-1/168 dated 24 November 2008]. She was buried at the city cemetery in Zaječar.

HLC believes that PolitikaVečernje Novosti and Kurir, by publishing unreliable information, unnecessarily disturbed the families who are still searching for their missing family members. HLC also believes that they have aroused distrust among citizens towards the Institute in Štimlje, which has no rational grounds.