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Saturday, 25 July, 1998, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Jailed aid worker 'fit'
The British Foreign Office has said charity worker Sally Becker is "fit and alert" in a Kosovo jail but is still refusing food and drink.

A senior British diplomat visited 37-year-old Ms Becker in the Serb-run prison on Friday afternoon, where she is serving a 30-day sentence for allegedly trying to smuggle a family of refugees fleeing fighting in the province into neighbouring Albania.

The First Secretary at the British Embassy in Belgrade, David Slinn, urged Ms Becker - dubbed the Angel of Mostar for her daring aid missions during the Bosnian war - to give up her hunger strike which she began on Thursday.

But she vowed to continue, in protest at the bloody conflict between ethnic Albanians and the Serbian authorities, and the impact it was having on civilians.

The spokesman said: "Mr Slinn said she seemed fit and alert, but a little despondent about her captivity.

"He brought her some clothes, as she requested, and will visit her again on Monday."

He added that she was not yet receiving medical treatment: "Our understanding is that the prison authorities are monitoring her state of health and they will call in a doctor if necessary."

A member of her charity, Operation Angel, in Britain, Brian Johnston, said that although there were concerns for her health he supported her decision to go on hunger strike.

Sally Becker in Mostar
Sally Becker: "The Angel of Mostar"
"She is doing it because it is atrocious out there," he said.

Sally Becker became known to sympathisers as the Angel of Mostar because of her freelance missions to the city of Mostar, in 1993, during the Bosnian War.

Serbian news agencies say the Serbian Justice Minister, Dragoljub Jankovic, and reporters had visited Ms Becker in prison.

According to reports, Ms Becker made no complaints about her treatment in prison.

Smuggling refugees

She is serving a one-month sentence for illegally crossing the Yugoslav border with Albania and for having links with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

She was arrested while trying to smuggle a family of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo to Albania.

According to reports, Ms Becker said she did not know the area she was in was "so sensitive, because 15,000 refugees escaped through that zone and nothing happened to them".

The Serbian authorities say she co-operated with KLA members to get the family across the border.

Ms Becker has already apologised for her actions and is now appealing against her sentence.

She is being represented in court by the ethnic Albanian former Communist leader of Kosovo, Azem Vllasi.

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Sally Becker
Sally Becker: "I'm not eating, I'm not drinking, against this war"
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18 Jul 98 | Europe
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