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Guards Return to Serbian Prisons

November 16, 2000

NIS, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Guards returned Thursday to Serbia’s main prisons, where prisoners have held control since a burst of rioting in which one person died and many were injured.

In the southern city of Nis, the inmates agreed after a meeting with Serbian justice official, Zoran Nikolic, to allow guards back into the central parts of the complex that were under prisoners’ control for more than a week.

In the town of Pozarevac, in eastern Serbia, teams of security police searched the prison departments for the first time since the riots broke out earlier this month.

The Beta news agency reported that an investigative team will soon visit the prison to determine the extent of damage from the riots, when angry inmates burned and destroyed much of the equipment and supplies.

Conditions in a third prison were also returning to normal, the agency said.

The guards had withdrawn from the prison after the inmates rebelled, angered by new that an amnesty law was being prepared to pardon political prisoners, particularly Kosovo Albanians. The inmates demanded they be included too and insisted on better living conditions and the replacement of prison wardens who allegedly often beat them.

The riots, which lasted several days, presented a challenge to the new authorities under Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica, who is still struggling to consolidate power more then one month after he ousted the former leader, Slobodan Milosevic.

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