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Serbia detain nine in Kosovo massacre
Updated: 2005-10-27 09:20

Serbian police detained nine people Wednesday on suspicion of taking part in a 1999 massacre of dozens of ethnic Albanians in southwestern Kosovo, prosecutors said.

The suspects, including six Serbian policemen, appeared before an investigative judge and prosecutors asked for a month's detention pending formal charges, said Snezana Malovic of Serbia's war crimes prosecutors office. Malovic did not identify the suspects.

The detentions marked a watershed since Serbs who fought ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are still revered by many as war heroes.

But pressure from human rights groups prompted Belgrade to launch an investigation, both in Serbia and Kosovo, to determine who is to blame. More than 60 witnesses, including ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, have been questioned in the investigation.

The 48 victims of the Suva Reka massacre among them 14 children, two babies, a pregnant woman and a 100-year-old woman were among hundreds of ethnic Albanians killed during the war in Kosovo whose bodies were later transported to Serbia.

They were dumped in mass graves near a high security police facility at Batajnica outside Belgrade, the Serbian capital. Autopsies showed the victims were executed.

The massacre is the first war crimes case in Serbia related to the mass graves discovered after Slobodan Milosevic's ouster.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since NATO's 1999 air war against Yugoslavia that forced Milosevic to end a crackdown on rebel ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

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