Serbian court sentences 14 Kosovo Albanians for terrorism

BELGRADE, May 5, 2000 -- (AFP) Fourteen Kosovo Albanians were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 20 months to 12 years on charges of terrorism by a court in the southern Serbian town of Nis, the pro-government daily Politika reported Friday.

The fourteen, all from the area around the southern Kosovo town of Suva Reka, were arrested last spring during the NATO bombing campaign and accused of "committing attacks on the Yugoslav army and police units," the daily said.

It added that the defendants "admitted they had to join" the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), considered terrorists by Belgrade.

Milazin Korteshi and Argon Morina were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, Aslam Lumi and Rasim Krueziu got 11-year sentences, while Dxavid Korteshi and Gazmend Batiqi received eight-year prison terms.

A further eight defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 20 months to two and a half years, the daily said.

Last June, Yugoslav authorities transferred more than 2,000 prisoners, mainly Kosovo Albanians, to Serbia as its troops pulled out of the province to make way for NATO-led peacekeepers.

Serbian Justice Minister Dragoljub Jankovic said last month that 979 prisoners brought from Kosovo were still being held in Serbian prisons.

All but 15 or 20 of them were ethnic Albanians, he said.

About 500 prisoners have been released, but more than 250 have received heavy prison sentences in trials criticized by international human rights groups, the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center has estimated.

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