Serbian Court Orders Detention of ‘Kidnapped’ Kosovo Policemen

The Higher Public Prosecutor's office in Kraljevo, central Serbia, ordered an investigation into three detained Kosovo policemen suspected of the illegal production, possession, carrying and trafficking of weapons and explosive materials..

The judge for the preliminary proceedings of the Higher Court in Kraljevo meanwhile ordered the detention of all three suspects.

BIRN asked the court how long the detention will last but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.

The police officers faces jail sentences of two to 12 years if found guilty of the charges.

The three police officers were seized on Wednesday in an action that Kosovo authorities called "kidnapping". Serbian authorities said they were arrested inside Serbia but Kosovo's government claims they were arrested inside Kosovo.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said the "kidnapping" was an act of "revenge" for the arrest of Kosovo Serb Milun "Lune" Milenkovic, in North Mitrovica one day earlier, on suspicion of orchestrating attacks against NATO peacekeepers at the end of May.

US deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar said that not all the facts are clear but there are two versions: one is that the police officers were kidnapped and the other is that they inadvertently crossed over to the territory of Serbia and were arrested there.

In any case, said Escobar, the three Kosovo police officers "did not intend to be on the territory of Serbia" and he demanded their immediate release.

NATO's peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, KFOR, said it was "not in the area when three Kosovo police officers were arrested by the Serbian police" on Wednesday, urging both Kosovo and Serbia to "reduce tensions & refrain from...

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