Trial of six Albanians accused of terrorism resumes

BELGRADE, Jan 26, 2000 -- (AFP) The trial of six Kosovo Albanians accused of terrorism was postponed by a Belgrade court Tuesday until February 18 after several witnesses failed to appear, Beta news agency reported.

They have been charged with "conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and sabotage during a state of war" -- last year's NATO-led campaign against Yugoslavia over Kosovo province.

They are accused of setting off explosive devices in public places in Belgrade, as well as collecting data on police movements.

Five of the defendants, students at Belgrade University, appeared in court. They denied the charges when the trial opened in November last year, accusing police of obtaining confessions under duress.

The sixth defendant, Zef Palluca, a silversmith, is being tried in abstentia.

If found guilty, the defendants could face jail sentences of up to 20 years.

They are among 2,050 ethnic Albanians arrested by Yugoslav authorities and accused of being members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which Belgrade considers a terrorist organization.

The Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center said 170 ethnic Albanians were convicted in October, November and December last year and sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to 15 years.

In December, Kosovar Albanian human rights activist Flora Brovina was sentenced to 12 years in prison for "terrorist activities," in a trial condemned by the United States and international human rights groups.

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