UN set to restore Yugoslavia's seat after activist is released from jail

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The Independent Online

The United Nations General Assembly was due to restore Yugoslavia's UN seat last night, formally ending the country's eight-year diplomatic isolation.

The United Nations General Assembly was due to restore Yugoslavia's UN seat last night, formally ending the country's eight-year diplomatic isolation.

The UN had turned down appeals from Serbia and Montenegro, which make up the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to occupy the seat for as long as Slobodan Milosevic was in power.

But after his removal from office last month and replacement by President Vojislav Kostunica, the world body acted swiftly on a request from Mr Kostunica to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.

As Mr Kostunica continued his efforts to restore normality to his war-torn country, he yesterday pardoned Flora Brovina, a leading ethnic Albanian human rights activist, who left prison in Serbia after 18 months in custody. She was sentenced in December by a Serb court to 12 years for "supporting terrorism" in Kosovo.

The sentence shocked human rights activists. Ms Brovina was arrested outside her home in Pristina in April 1999 during the Nato bombing campaign, sharing the fate of thousands of ethnic Albanians taken to Serb prisons.

The release of these prisoners is one of the major issues the UN has to address in its efforts to promote talks on the future of Kosovo between the Yugoslav government and ethnic Albanian residents.

In the south-western Kosovo town of Djakovica yesterday, dozens of ethnic Albanians seeking information on missing friends and relatives stormed out of a meeting with a Swedish UN envoy after he urged them to co-operate with the Serbs.

The new political situation in Serbia produced a fresh revelation yesterday as it emerged that the doorstep killing last year of Slavko Curuvija, an independent Serb journalist, was directly linked to Mr Milosevic's notorious secret police, the State Security Service. A document leaked to the Humanitarian Law Centre in Belgrade contained a surveillance report on Mr Curuvija, who owned the Dvevni Telegraf, made on the day he was shot -11 April last year.

The surveillance was carried out on the orders of Rade Markovic, the chief of the secret police. The agents who took part in the operation were withdrawn only minutes before Mr Curuvija was killed, apparently so there would be no witnesses to the murder that took place moments later.

Natasa Kandic, head of the Humanitarian Law Centre, said: "This document is the first to prove what we always suspected; that the State Security was behind the assassination of Curuvija."

Mr Markovic has been under pressure to resign since Mr Milosevic's removal from office.

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