Diplomats meet spy suspects

Thursday, 10 August, 2000

British and Canadian diplomats have met the four men accused of spying in Yugoslavia.
The British consul in Belgrade, Robert Gordon, had his first meeting with the two accused British police officers on Thursday and said they looked well.
"I was able to meet them, they look fine, in good health. They're looking forward to receiving some reading material. I'll be in touch with them again soon," he said.
Canadian diplomat Craig Bale also visited the Canadian pair for the first time since their detention nine days ago, and said they had been well treated and were healthy.
He said they had been told they would be allowed to speak to their families on Thursday and he expected to visit them again on Friday.
Djordje Djurisic, a lawyer for the two Britons, has said they face a wait of at least a week before hearing if they will be formally charged.
The judge who sat at a closed session at the Supreme Military Court in Belgrade on Wednesday is still to decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.
But Mr Djurisic said that based on the current evidence, he was hopeful of a positive outcome.
Adrian Prangnell, 41, and John Yore, 31, and Canadian construction workers Shaun Going and Liam Hall deny all accusations of terrorism.
Mr Djurisic said Wednesday's hearing was just the start of the legal process.
The investigating judge may have to interview more witnesses or collect more evidence to reach a decision.
The men - arrested in Montenegro last week - will face prison sentences of up to 15 years if they are charged with bringing explosives into Yugoslavia and violating national sovereignty.
Adrian Prangnell had expressed unhappiness about the level of legal representation offered by the Yugoslav authorities, in a telephone call to Mr Gordon earlier this week.
British diplomats in Belgrade said the lawyer offered, was a former military judge and they expressed doubts that the men would get a fair trial.
At a meeting in London on Tuesday, Foreign Office Minister Keith Vaz told Yugoslav Government official, Rade Drobac, of his concern over the four men being denied access to UK and Canadian government representatives.
Earlier Mr Vaz had said that there was no basis for the arrests of the four men and "no justification for them to be paraded on Serbian television".
Mr Drobac has told the BBC he did not believe the men would face life imprisonment.
He said: "I don't believe they will be imprisoned for life... they have not done any terrorist acts."
Mr Yore, from the Cambridgeshire Police, and Mr Prangnell, from the Hampshire force, had been working in Kosovo as part of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), training the Kosovo police force.
The pair said they had been holidaying in Montenegro when they were arrested with Mr Going and Mr Hall.
Electric cables, maps and photographs of explosions were allegedly found in their car, and they were accused of espionage.
The claim has been strenuously denied by the UN and the OSCE.
Both organisations have demanded the men's release.
Yugoslavia is currently holding eight Westerners whom it accuses of spying and terrorist activities.
Four Dutchmen were arrested last month on charges of plotting to kill President Slobodan Milosevic.
Western diplomats say the Yugoslav authorities are trying to whip up anti-Western feeling ahead of elections in September.

Original article