Six seriously ill in Kosovo prison fast

PRISTINA, Apr 26, 2000 -- (Reuters) Six prisoners are seriously ill after two weeks on hunger strike in international custody in Kosovo, UN police said on Tuesday.

They belong to a group of 32 Kosovo Serb and Gypsy prisoners who have refused food and medical treatment since April 10 at a detention center in the flashpoint town of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Local Serb media say they want to be grouped together in jail and tried without delay.

"The health condition of the six prisoners (is) bad," the UN police said in a statement.

About a dozen people, mostly women, rallied outside the Mitrovica Detention Center on Monday in support of the striking inmates, UN police said.

Scores of Serbs, ethnic Albanians and Gypsies have been jailed for ethnically motivated murder, robbery, assault and intimidation in Mitrovica. But trials have been postponed indefinitely by UN judicial authorities for fear severe communal tensions could boil over again.

Mitrovica is split into ethnic Albanian-and Serb-dominated sectors. Ethnic violence plagued the city until KFOR improved security at riverbank crossing points a few weeks ago to keep militants of the two communities apart.

Original article