Diplomats to meet 'spies' held by Yugoslavia

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The Independent Online

British officials were still waiting last night to see two policemen being held by the Yugoslav army on suspicion of spying after they passed their first weekend in custody.

British officials were still waiting last night to see two policemen being held by the Yugoslav army on suspicion of spying after they passed their first weekend in custody.

Diplomats have been granted permission to visit Constable John Yore, of the Cambridgeshire force, and Sergeant Adrian Prangnell, of the Hampshire force, who were arrested with two Canadian citizens, Shaun Going and his nephew, Liam Hall, on Tuesday near the border between Montenegro and Kosovo.

The officers were working in Kosovo for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and were accused of "terrorist" activity while they were on holiday in Montenegro. They were accused of training units of the pro-Western Montenegrin army.

Keith Vaz, a Foreign Office minister, said that the authorities in Belgrade had agreed "consular access" to the two but he made clear this met only one of the demands being made by the Government. The men should be released unless they could be charged with a genuine offence, he said.

Diplomats had hoped to see the prisoners by the end of the weekend but the Foreign Office said the consular access had only been agreed "in principle", and there was not yet a date or time fixed for the visit.

The two policeman were shown looking tense and strained on Yugoslav state television in footage which also displayed explosives, guns, wires and maps, alleged to have been in the Britons' possession at the time of their arrest.

Mr Going's Pristina-based, company, Meridian Resources, a building contractor, insisted they had not been carrying explosives, as has been alleged.

Officials from the company said that the reason the men might have had mining equipment in their vehicle was because Mr Going had just finished a demolition job in Kosovo prior to travelling into Montenegro.

The Canadian chargé d'affaires travelled on Thursday to the border town of Andrijevica, but was not permitted to visit the men at the military barracks where they were held.

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."

The Yugoslav army claims that the four men were in Montenegro to train the Speziljani, or Special Police, a 15,000-strong paramilitary force loyal to the government of pro-western President Milo Djukanovic.

His stance is fuelling fears in Belgrade that the tiny republic, the only one remaining with Serbia in the Yugoslav Federation, will try to secede.

Montenegro's ruling Democratic Party of Socialists accused the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, of spreading lies about foreigners training its police, to set the stage for a takeover by his army of the republic.

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