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Monday, November 2, 1998 Published at 22:18 GMT

World: Europe

French officer 'spied for Serbs'

By Paris Correspondent Stephen Jessel

A senior French military officer has been arrested and detained in Paris on charges of spying for the Yugoslav Government.

Kosovo Section
Major Pierre Bunel is alleged to have handed over details of targets to be hit by Nato aircraft in the event that Serbia did not pull its troops out of the heavily-Albanian province of Kosovo.

Major Bunel, 46, was a member of the French delegation to Nato's military committee at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels.

He was detained last week and questioned for four days before being formally placed under investigation on Saturday.

Stephen Jessel: Reportedly no money changed hands
Reports quoting reliable sources say that he is suspected of handing over to Serb agents details of the military sites selected for Nato air attack.

In the end, the forces were withdrawn late last month and the prospect of a Nato strike has receded - at least for the time being.

The reports say that Major Bunel acted out of sympathy for the Serb cause and not for money.

If found guilty of spying for a foreign power, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

Earlier this year a French liaison officer in Bosnia was accused by an American newspaper of warning the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, of Nato plans to arrest him.

The French authorities denied the charges but accepted that his relationship with Serb leaders developed in a way that was open to question, and the officer was recalled to France.

There is a pro-Serbia tradition in the French armed forces which is reported to have emerged on occasions during the conflict in Bosnia.

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