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Human Rights Researcher Reportedly Detained in Albanian Region

October 19, 1990

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A prominent Norwegian activist investigating alleged human rights abuses against ethnic Albanians was detained by police for about five hours Friday, a colleague said.

Bjorn Cato Funnemark, leader of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, was detained near Pristina, capital of Kosovo province, said Tanja Petovar, Yugoslav spokeswoman for the Helsinki Committee.

Ms. Petovar said Funnemark was held five hours by Serbian police, who kept Funnemark’s passport and personal papers. It was not clear if the documents were returned.

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Funnemark was stopped while driving in a car with three ethnic Albanians, who were not detained.

Serbian and Yugoslav authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

Serbs have taken control of the ethnic Albanian-dominated province struggling to regain autonomy. Albanian-language newspapers have been closed and radio and television stations were seized.

More than 60 ethnic Albanians have died in clashes with Serb-dominated security forces the past 18 months.

The International Helsinki Federation and other organizations have recently issued critical reports on the rights situation in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians comprise about 90 percent of the 1.9 million people.

″This represents another serious violation,″ Ms. Petovar said.

She said Funnemark, who has investigated rights abuses in Romania, Ireland, Bulgaria and Turkey, ″is one of the most prominent human rights experts in Western Europe.″

In September, Serbian police detained a group from the Vienna, Austria- based International Helsinki Federation. They were expelled from Yugoslavia and barred from returning to the country for three years. Authorities later lifted the ban.

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