Serb activists freed before opposition rally

BELGRADE, May 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serb authorities freed three anti-government activists on Monday but the opposition said it was going ahead with a rally in protest at their alleged beatings.

The opposition will mass on Tuesday in the eastern Serbian town of Pozarevac, the home town of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, where they were arrested last week.

Opposition news media have been hit by a series of fines for their accounts of the incident.

They say associates of Milosevic's powerful son Marko beat up the three members of the Otpor (Resistance) movement in a Pozarevac cafe and police then arrested them.

The authorities said they detained the three on suspicion of attempted murder.

Two were released from a Belgrade prison after a court hearing on Monday. They left prison with visible head scabs and facial bruises. One of them, Radojko Lukovic, said he had been treated well in prison.

The third man was freed in Pozarevac, the independent Beta news agency said.

Their lawyer, Borivoje Borovic, said legal proceedings against them had been halted for now, but did not elaborate.

Opposition officials pressed ahead with plans for the rally, hoping for a repeat of the success of last month's anti-Milosevic demonstration in Belgrade which drew 100,000 people.

Meho Omerovic of the Social Democracy party, one of the organizers, said the releases had not affected opposition plans.

"Violence and terror are not only taking place in Pozarevac and not only against Otpor....The rally will take place, same place, same motto: Stop to terror, for free elections," he said.

Vladan Batic, coordinator of the Alliance for Change opposition grouping, forecast a big turnout.

"It is a tradition here that the greater the pressure against something, the greater the interest among the people, and more of them will come," Batic told a news conference.

Original article