Freed officers were told they would die

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One of the British police officers freed from a prison in Belgrade said he and his fellow captives were threatened with summary execution in the first few days of their arrest.

One of the British police officers freed from a prison in Belgrade said he and his fellow captives were threatened with summary execution in the first few days of their arrest.

Detective Sergeant Adrian Pragnell, who arrived back at his home at Soberton in Hampshire at the weekend after 10 weeks in jail, described how his Yugoslav army captors revelled in the notoriety they had achieved in Kosovo.

DS Pragnell, his fellow British policeman John Yore and two Canadian companions were seized as they travelled back from a holiday in Montenegro to Kosovo, where the two officers were helping to train the local police force.

The four captives were "punched and slapped around" and were told that they would be killed, DS Pragnell said.

He added: "I feared for my life on the first day or so after we were captured. We were in real danger. The soldiers that detained us were convinced without a doubt that we were a trophy, and in the first few hours I just thanked goodness that nobody had a gun.

"They told us that they were the notorious Seventh Brigade and that they had been in Kosovo prior to being in Montenegro ... As the day went on we were told that we wouldn't be getting out of the army barracks alive."

DS Pragnell said he and his companions thought the Serbian authorities "wanted to put us away for 10 or 15 years if they could. It was a big worry, a really big worry. We always hoped that the British Government would get us out."

In the days before his release, he said he could hear the uprising on the streets outside his cell. "When we found out ... that things were looking pretty good and Milosevic was on his way out, it was a fantastic feeling," he said.

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