Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Medenica accuses Albanians for 'plans for terrorist attacks'
A group of ethnic Albanians arrested during Montenegro's recent elections had plans to destabilize the young Balkan nation just months after it became independent, the state prosecutor said Monday.
Revealing details of a newly declassified investigation, Prosecutor Vesna Medenica claimed that the group of 14 ethnic Albanian men had "detailed plans for terrorist attacks ... aimed at intimidating non-Albanian population" in a southwestern region close to neighboring Albania.
The group -- including three U.S. citizens from the state of Michigan and two U.S. residents of ethnic Albanian origin -- was arrested on the eve of Montenegro's Sept. 10 general elections, on suspicion of threatening the ballot with violence. Authorities seized a cache of weapons, including rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from the group.
Ethnic Albanians are about 7 percent of the republic's 620,000 people and generally have good relations with the government of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who led Montenegro to independence from Serbia in June.
The ethnic Albanians have long had their representatives in Montenegro's parliament and government, but the small and apparently renegade group, conspired to "commit acts against constitutional order and security in Montenegro," the prosecutor said.
The suspects' aim was to win autonomy for the small, southeastern area where the ethnic Albanians form a local majority, the prosecutor said, adding that the clandestine plan was code-named "Eagle Flight" and was partly financed by ethnic Albanians living in the West.
Leaders of the ethnic Albanian community have dismissed the accusations as unfounded and politically motivated.
Five of the 14 jailed men have complained of being tortured while in police custody. Amnesty International has urged the authorities to investigate those allegations.
Medenica pledged that prosecutors will look into the torture allegations and that police officers will be punished if the suspects were mistreated.
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