Top Serb politician quits over spy charge

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The Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, who was detained by the Yugoslav military last week accused of spying for America, bowed to political pressure and resigned yesterday.

Momcilo Perisic and the first secretary of the US embassy in Belgrade, John Neighbor, were arrested in Belgrade on Thursday. The military said Mr Perisic, who was released on Saturday, was giving documents to Mr Neighbor that were "relevant for the defence of the country". Officials said they could have been used against the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic at his war crimes trial in The Hague.

The Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica, who controls the army, said the military had shown Yugoslav and Serbian leaders "concrete" evidence that Mr Perisic passed secrets. Mr Perisic said he was the victim of a "monstrous fabrication". The USalso denied espionage.

Both Mr Kostunica and his bitter political rival, the Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, had asked Mr Perisic to resign and refrain from invoking his parliamentary immunity to help the investigation. Mr Kostunica's party called on Mr Djindjic to resign as well, saying his government was responsible for Mr Perisic's "act of espionage". The demand underscored a rift between the pro-Western Mr Djindjic and Mr Kostunica, a nationalist. (AP)