He was all smiles a few months ago as he honoured Tony Blair for helping to liberate his country.
But yesterday Kosovo’s prime minister was sensationally named as the boss of a brutal mafia network that allegedly specialised in butchering enemies for their kidneys.
He strongly denies the allegations.
In a bombshell report Hashim Thaci was described as ‘the most dangerous’ of organised crime leaders who engaged in assassinations, beatings, drug smuggling and a weapons racket.
Most macabre are testimonies alleging how his mafia network harvested human organs from kidnapped prisoners, who pleaded not to be ‘chopped into pieces’ before they were shot dead by henchmen.
Their kidneys and other organs were removed and sold in a deal with an Albanian clinic.
The claims about the country’s premier come as a slap in the face to those who supported Britain’s efforts to free Kosovo and help its rebel leaders to power.
Yesterday the allegations against Mr Thaci – pictured many times alongside Mr Blair – were laid bare in a devastating Council of Europe report.
Damningly, the report accuses Western governments of complicity, saying European leaders knew about, but chose to ignore, Thaci’s alleged brutality.
Thaci was nicknamed ‘The Snake’ when he was a guerrilla leader in the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought the Serbs.
After Mr Blair helped to push the Serbs from Kosovo in 1999 under aerial bombardment, Thaci rose to power. Only last Sunday, he was re-elected as prime minister.
But Dick Marty, the Swiss senator who wrote the report, said he felt ‘moral outrage’ as he allegedly discovered how Thaci’s ‘Drenica Group’, a faction of the KLA, was implicated in harvesting human organs.
He claimed captives were held in a secret network of six detention facilities in lawless northern Albania, near its border with Kosovo. In one case, a ‘handful’ of men were held in a farmhouse in the town of Fushe-Kruje.
The report states: ‘As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the “safe house” individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported to the operating clinic.’
‘At least some of these captives became aware of the fate that awaited them. Some are said to have pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being “chopped into pieces”.’
Some victims were allowed to live, minus their robbed organs.
The sinister portrait of Thaci painted by the report bears little resemblance to the man who greeted Mr Blair as an old friend when Britain’s former prime minister was honoured during a visit to Pristina in July.
Fluttering Union Flags heralded Mr Blair’s arrival in one of the few countries where he is proclaimed on posters as a ‘leader, friend and hero’. He was joined by his wife Cherie,
Yesterday Thaci described Mr Marty’s report as baseless and defamatory.
‘The government of Kosovo and Hashim Thaci will undertake all the necessary steps to dismiss the slanders of Dick Marty, including legal and political means,’ a statement said.