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updated 12/15/2010 5:04:42 PM ET 2010-12-15T22:04:42

European Union police in Kosovo on Wednesday asked for "hard facts" to back up claims made by an investigator that civilian detainees of the Kosovo Liberation Army were shot to death to sell their kidneys on the black market.

Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty rocked Kosovo with his report released Tuesday that also suggested that Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was once the "boss" of a criminal underworld behind the alleged grisly trade.

Thaci was the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army's political head during the 1998-99 war for independence from Serbia. His party just won the Kosovo's first general elections since it declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

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An earlier EU investigation into claims that organ harvesting took place in northern Albania did not come up with any proof, EU police mission spokeswoman Karin Limdal noted.

"The prosecution base their investigation and the indictments on hard facts and proofs," Limdal said.

"If there is any evidence to any of those allegations put forward in this report the people that sit on that evidence should bring them forward," she said.

Marty, a Swiss senator, led a team of investigators to Kosovo and Albania in 2009, following allegations of organ trafficking by the KLA published in a book by former U.N. War Crimes tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte who said she was given information by Western journalists.

Marty's investigation found that there were a number of detention facilities in Albania, where both Kosovan opponents of the KLA and Serbs were allegedly held once the hostilities in Kosovo were over in 1999, including a "state-of-the-art reception center for the organized crime of organ trafficking."

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that "any evidence and sources cited in this report should be shared with competent authorities to conduct a full and proper investigation."

"We take all credible allegations of criminal activity very seriously, Crowley said. "The rule of law is paramount to stability and progress in the Balkans."

The French Foreign Ministry said the European Union's EULEX mission for the rule of law in Kosovo was the proper authority to investigate the claims, ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Wednesday.

An EU prosecutor has charged seven Kosovans in a separate case for illegal kidney transplants in Kosovo's capital Pristina. Former KLA members are also being tried for running detention centers in northern Albania.

EULEX has some 2,000 police and justice workers who are in charge of investigating war crimes and organized crime and oversee Kosovo's weak justice system.

The news shocked and dismayed Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

"I am confused, angry, annoyed and disappointed," said Vedat Gashi, an ethnic Albanian.

Another said he found the report "hard to believe."

"But anything could happen," said Naser Leci. "I hope it isn't true as it would be bad for everyone."

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Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi said the allegations were "monstrous and not true" and blamed Marty of having "his own agenda ... to damage" Kosovo.

Rexhepi said Marty was trying to weaken Kosovo before it meets for negotiations with Serbia. Serbia has refused to recognize its former province's 2008 declaration of independence.

The United States and the European Union have pushed for Serbia to hold talks with Kosovo.

But Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic cast doubt on prospects of holding talks with Thaci.

"I have no kind of plans to meet with this man," Jeremic said at a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday. "I don't know what kind of future this man has if you pay attention to the report of the Council of Europe investigation."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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