Serbs accused of war crimes escape from Kosovo hospital

PRISTINA, Aug 5, 2000 -- (AFP) Three Serb prisoners suspected of war crimes and acts of genocide escaped Friday from a Kosovo hospital where they were being treated under UN police guard, a police spokesman said.

The three were sharing a bedroom in a hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica, northern Kosovo when they managed to slip away, Yvan de Sainte Foy said.

Several police were in the corridor outside their room, he said, and checked on the prisoners at 1:00 a.m. (2300 GMT). They appeared to be asleep, but 15 minutes later they were gone.

Dragisa Pejca was arrested in June 1999 suspected of committing war crimes. He was in the hospital to be treated for kidney stones, de Sainte Foy said.

Aleksic Vlastimir, was arrested in August last year on suspicion of taking part in acts of genocide. He was said to be suffering from high blood pressure.

Dragan Jovanovic was arrested in July last year also on suspicion of genocide. He had been diagnosed as having lead poisoning.

Under the Yugoslavian law code still in place in UN-administered Kosovo, a suspect may be charged with genocide if he has killed someone and tried to drive others from their homes.

All three had been admitted to the hospital on the advice of doctors from Kosovo's UN administration and the KFOR multinational peace keeping force, police said.

Last month another Serb prisoner, accused of murder, managed to escape from the same hospital and has not yet been recaptured, de Sainte Foy said.

An internal inquiry has been launched into the latest escapes and a manhunt launched to recapture the Serbs, he added.

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