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Serb Reporter Handed Over to Court

May 11, 2000

NIS, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A Serb reporter who was detained by police for writing about alleged atrocities committed by the Yugoslav army in Kosovo was handed over to a military court Thursday and could face espionage charges.

Miroslav Filipovic, a reporter for Belgrade’s independent Danas daily, was arrested Monday at his home in the central Serbian town of Kraljevo. On Thursday, he was transferred to the military court in the southern Serbian city of Nis, about 120 miles south of Belgrade.

``Mr. Filipovic has been brought to us and he is in detention ... under suspicion that he committed the criminal act of espionage,″ said Col. Vukadin Milojevic, who heads the court. A decision on whether to charge Filipovic was due by Saturday.

Last month, Filipovic wrote about an alleged secret Yugoslav army intelligence report on soldiers’ atrocities against Kosovo Albanians during NATO’s 78-day intervention to stop a government crackdown in the Serbian province.

He wrote that the report included testimony from a Yugoslav army commander admitting he watched in horror as a soldier decapitated a three-year-old ethnic Albanian boy in front of his family. Another described how tanks in his unit indiscriminately shelled a Kosovo Albanian village before paramilitary police moved in and massacred the survivors.

Police inspectors searched Filipovic’s apartment before arresting him, confiscating documents and articles.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime has been cracking down on independent media, banning and fining newspapers critical of his policies.

Scores of independent reporters and opposition activists were detained Monday and Tuesday, when the government launched a major sweep to block a planned opposition rally in Pozarevac, Milosevic’s hometown.

In a further sign of the government’s crackdown, a Pozarevac judge was removed from office and the local state prosecutor offered his resignation Thursday, after both officials had attended the opposition rally, the private Beta news agency reported.

Meanwhile, opposition parties announced another anti-government rally in the Yugoslav capital and more protests throughout Serbia, including Pozarevac. Opposition leaders said the protest in Belgrade, scheduled for Monday, was ``a matter of honor.″

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