'Diplomats opened way for child organ trafficking'

By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet and Zuhal Demirci

ANKARA (AA) – Greek diplomats issued visas for unaccompanied minors for the purpose of organ trade, according to a former Greek foreign minister.

Nikos Kotzias resigned from his post last month following a row with other Cabinet members over how to resolve the name dispute with Macedonia.

In an interview last week with the Journalists' Union of Athens Daily Newspapers, Kotzias said he sent 93 cases to prosecutors and some diplomats went to prison for issuing visas to unaccompanied minors.

"Do you know what visas for unaccompanied minors mean? It means the organ trade. And only because I saved several souls will I sleep in peace when my life ends," he said.

Kotzias had spoken publicly on the issue of visas for unaccompanied minors before, including at an event on the island of Crete on Oct. 22, but without mentioning the link to organ trade.

He said prominent ambassadors went to prison over the issue, but somehow the press did not write about it.

A visa was even issued for a 14-month-old unaccompanied child, and it was covered up, he said.

Kotzias did not respond to requests from Anadolu Agency for comment.

As the cases were not covered by the media, it is not known which Greek diplomats were allegedly involved or which were imprisoned.

Revelations like Kotzias' about the role of corrupt state officials in irregular migration and organ trade are very rare in Europe.

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, or Europol, has said there are 10,000 missing unaccompanied refugee children in Europe.

In an interview in January 2016, Brian Donald, Europol’s chief of staff, said the number exceeded 10,000.

He said that in 2015, 270,000 refugee children entered Europe, and there is evidence that a large number of them might have been unaccompanied, so the actual number of missing unaccompanied child refugees in Europe could be much higher than estimated.

A report by Europol released in February 2016 said corruption is a key facilitating factor for migrant smuggling.

"Consulate and embassy staff are also targeted by criminals to support immigration applications and provide visas and passports," it said.

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