Annan calls for earliest release of four detained by Yugoslavia

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The Independent Online

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for "the earliest release" of two British police officers and two Canadians arrested by the Yugoslav army in Montenegro on suspicion of spying and training secessionist forces.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for "the earliest release" of two British police officers and two Canadians arrested by the Yugoslav army in Montenegro on suspicion of spying and training secessionist forces.

Expressing concern at their detention, Annan also called on Yugoslav authorities to honor their obligations under the Vienna Convention and grant consular access to the four men, U.N. deputy spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said Friday.

The four had been spending a weekend at the Montenegrin coast and were traveling back to their jobs in Kosovo when they were arrested, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Montenegro is part of Yugoslavia but its pro-Western administration strongly opposes President Slobodan Milosevic. The Montenegrins do not require Westerners to obtain Yugoslav visas, but the Yugoslav army in Montenegro, which is loyal to Milosevic, does not recognize the waiver and considers anyone without visas to be in the country illegally.

The British officers, who work for the OSCE, had been assigned to work for the U.N. mission in Kosovo, which Annan said gives them the privileges and immunities of United Nations staff members, Almeida e Silva said.

The Canadians, Shaun Going and his 19-year-old nephew Liam Hall, were working in Kosovo for a construction company, Meridian Resources, according to Shawn Barber, head of the Canadian mission in Kosovo.

David Slin, head of the British mission in Kosovo, said Belgrade authorities had not formally notified the British government that they are holding the two men. He identified them as Sgt. Adrian Pragnell, 41, and Constable John Yore, 31, both trainers at the OSCE-run police academy in the central Kosovo town of Vucitrn.

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