Solana 'deeply shocked' at trial of Kosovo Albanians

BRUSSELS, May 24, 2000 -- (AFP) The EU's high representative for security and foreign policy Javier Solana said Tuesday he was "deeply shocked" by a Serbian court's sentencing of 143 Kosovo Albanians to long jail terms.

The 143 Monday got terms ranging from seven to 13 years on terrorism charges at the end of what defense lawyers denounced as a "political" trial.

The district court in the southern Serbian town of Nis handed down sentences totaling 1,632 years to the defendants, for what it said was their part in attacks against government forces during the 1999 NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia.

About 3,000 Kosovar Albanians protested against the verdicts Monday by marching through the streets of Djakovica, southwest Kosovo, the defendants' home town.

"This is a new sign of the total scorn of the regime (of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic) for the basic principles of modern democracy," Solana said in a statement.

"This decision will not help to reduce tension in Kosovo, where the question of those who have disappeared or are under detention continues to pose a major obstacle to reconciliation and creation of a climate of tolerance and security," he said.

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