Inquiry ordered into 'torture' of Britons in Belgrade

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The Independent Online

The Foreign Office will investigate claims that two British police officers being held in Yugoslavia on allegations of spying were beaten and tortured.

The Foreign Office will investigate claims that two British police officers being held in Yugoslavia on allegations of spying were beaten and tortured.

Detective Sergeant Adrian Pragnell, 41, from Hampshire and Constable John Yore, 31, from Cambridgeshire allegedly told The Mail on Sunday that they had been punched, intimidated and deprived of sleep after their arrest.

PC Yore is reported to have said: "It's cleverly done, slaps to the stomach, kidneys, that sort of thing. There are no marks." DS Pragnell said that when they were first apprehended, Yugoslav soldiers paraded them to crowds as spies and terrorists and they thought they were going to be shot or lynched.

The Foreign Office said the two men had been seen five times by Bob Gordon, the British consul in Belgrade, and had not mentioned the alleged assaults and showed no physical signs of the assault. However, a spokeswoman said: "We shall, of course, investigate this and find out if the allegations are true."

Djordje Djurisic, the court appointed lawyer for the two Britons in Belgrade, said: "My clients did not confirm to me that they were beaten or tortured in any way.

"If there was anything serious in this sense, I'm sure that they would have told me or signalled me. I don't exclude the possibility that there was some commotion at the time of the arrest in Montenegro, but I'll ask my clients about that when I see them tomorrow."

The men were arrested along with two Canadians while travelling from Montenegro to Kosovo on 1 August. The Yugoslav authorities claiming that they did not have the correct papers and were in possession of equipment which could be used for terrorist activities.

The men said that their ill-treatment stopped after the first week when they were taken from the army base at Andrijevica to the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica. They were later moved to Belgrade where they are now being held in a military jail.

The men were in the region working for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) training the new Kosovan police force.

They insisted they were simply returning from a short break in Montenegro when then they were arrested.

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