British 'Spies' to face Yugoslav courts

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two British policemen being held on suspicion of spying in Yugoslavia are expected to be charged today, a senior Yugoslav army official said.

Two British policemen being held on suspicion of spying in Yugoslavia are expected to be charged today, a senior Yugoslav army official said.

The reports came as representatives from the Foreign Office and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were today meeting Yugoslav Foreign Ministry officials to demand more information about John Yore, 31, and Adrian Pragnell, 41.

Mr Yore, from Cambridgeshire Police, and Mr Pragnell from the Hampshire force, were arrested alongside Canadians Shaun Going and Liam Hall while travelling back from Montenegro to Kosovo last Tuesday.

They had reportedly been holidaying in Montenegro, taking a short break from their work with the OSCE in Kosovo. They are being held in a military prison in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica.

There were unconfirmed reports over the weekend that the Yugoslav authorities had admitted the pair were not carrying explosives.

But the Yugoslav army officer said today they would be charged in relation to offences of allegedly training forces in Montenegro for "terrorist action".

During today's visit the Foreign Office official from the British Interests Section in Belgrade and an Austrian from the OSCE will seek information on the exact charges the men face.

They will also press for a definite time and date that consular access to the men can be granted.

As the four continue to be held the OSCE has stopped its staff from travelling to Montenegro.

In a memo to its staff throughout the Balkans, the group said the arrests were part of a pattern of activity indicating that "the security situation in Montenegro (is) taking a turn for the worse".

It said: "Clearly, it would be unwise to offer an opportunity for the (Yugoslav army) to use a chance encounter with OSCE people travelling without visas as another propaganda coup."

Mr Yore's girlfriend, Mel Symondson, 26, said: "It has been a real shock to see what is happening as he was coming home very soon and we are all just waiting for news."

Last night, Montenegrin lawyer Vojislav Zecevic said the four men had told him they were "well and treated correctly". The two Britons had asked him to tell their families not to worry.

Speaking on local television Mr Zecevic said Yugoslav authorities, under military law, have 48 hours to charge or release the men now that the investigation stage of the inquiry has been completed.

The UK has no official embassy in the former Yugoslavia, made up of Serbia and Montenegro, two republics loosely tied in an uneasy federation.

The British Interests Section is based at the Brazilian embassy in the capital Belgrade.

Comments