Policemen to face terrorist charges in Belgrade

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two British police officers accused of spying are to appear in a Belgrade military court today on terrorist charges carrying a 15-year sentence.

Two British police officers accused of spying are to appear in a Belgrade military court today on terrorist charges carrying a 15-year sentence.

Detective Sergeant Adrian Pragnell and Constable John Yore, plus two Canadian civilians who were detained with them last week in Montenegro, were transferred to Belgrade yesterday from the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, where the military prosecutor decided there were grounds to pursue the charges.

According to the men's lawyer in Podgorica, Vojislav Zecevic, the military prosecutor, said the four had entered Yugoslavia illegally, had attempted to plan terrorist actions and intended to establish armed groups in the pro-Western republic of Montenegro. They should also be charged with possession of a large quantity of arms and explosives, the military prosecutor had said.

The four men denied all the charges.

Keith Vaz, the Foreign Office minister, lodged a formal protest with the Yugoslav authorities yesterday at a meeting with Rade Drobac, the head of the Yugoslav interests section in London.

"They were not there on some James Bond mission," he said. "They were there on holiday." He said Yugoslavia's refusal to grant consular access to the two men was a "manifest breach" of practice.

Apparently as a result of that meeting, DS Pragnell was allowed to speak by telephone with the top British diplomat in Belgrade, Bob Gordony, telling him the four would face a hearing at the military court today.

DS Pragnell and PC Yorewere detained as they returned to Kosovo with Shaun Going and Liam Hill after a short holiday in Montenegro. The Britons train police in the UN-administered province of Kosovo. Mr Going is a building contractor. His employer denied he might have been carrying demolition equipment.

Comments