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US

2 freed Yugoslav POWs 'in good health'

 Serb POW's return home
U.S. officials escort transport Serb POWs by land and air to Yugoslavia

 ALSO:

Reluctant refugees: Kosovars in Texas

NATO targets Serb military

Refugees allege abuse by Serb police

The Geneva Conventions: Prisoners of war

 MESSAGE BOARD:

Crisis in Kosovo

 

May 18, 1999
Web posted at: 12:19 p.m. EDT (1619 GMT)


In this story:

The route home

Red Cross: They wanted to go home

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



HORGOS, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Two Serb soldiers held as prisoners of war by the U.S. military in Germany were freed Tuesday and turned over to Yugoslavia.

The two men, both privates, entered Yugoslavia from Hungary just before 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EDT/1300 GMT).

Dressed in green uniforms, Boban Milen Kovic and Sesko Tairovic "looked in good health," said a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In Belgrade, the Yugoslav government thanked the ICRC, which organized the handover. "We have been informed by the ICRC and we appreciate the work of the ICRC on that matter," said a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

The route home

The trip home began with the soldiers being taken from Mannheim Air Base to Heidelberg, Germany, where they boarded a U.S. military plane for a flight to Budapest, Hungary.

From there, they were taken by land to the border town of Roszke in southern Hungary where they crossed into Horgos, Yugoslavia.

Throughout the process, the Serb soldiers were accompanied by ICRC representatives but remained in the custody of the U.S. military until the handover to Yugoslav authorities took place.

Red Cross: They wanted to go home

Before the trip from Germany, a Red Cross official met in private with each soldier and confirmed that they wanted to be released and go back to Yugoslavia, ICRC spokesman Urs Boegli said in Geneva.

That is standard procedure.

The freeing of the Serb soldiers followed the release earlier this month of three U.S. Army soldiers captured March 31 along the Kosovo-Macedonia border, but the Pentagon says there is no link between the two releases.

The two Serbs were turned over to the U.S. military authorities in Albania by the Kosovo Liberation Army.

They were flown from Albania to Germany where they were visited by ICRC representatives, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions on treatment of POWs.

U.S. officials have frequently contrasted their strict compliance with the Geneva Conventions with the actions of Yugoslav authorities who held the three U.S. soldiers as POWs for 32 days in Serbia.

The Americans were denied access to Red Cross officials for weeks and were not allowed to communicate with their families.

One of the Serbs was taken prisoner April 16, the other about two weeks later, according to Sgt. Beth Alber, a spokeswoman for the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

Correspondents Carl Rochelle and Chris Burns contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Release of 2 Serb POWs may come Tuesday
May 17, 1999
Yugoslav POWs to be released
May 16, 1999
U.N. delegation heading to Yugoslavia
May 15, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Related to this story:
  • The Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Mannheim Air Base
  • U.S. European Command

Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
  • Kosovo

Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • The White House
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis


Relief:
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International


Media:
  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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