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Ex-KLA men stay in Serb custody

Serbian police escort a suspected ex-KLA fighter in Belgrade, 26 December
Armed police could be seen escorting the detainees in Belgrade

Nine ethnic Albanian former guerrillas arrested on war crimes charges in Serbia have been remanded in custody in Belgrade for 30 days.

A judge ruled the former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) should be held as they might otherwise abscond.

They are suspected of murdering, raping and torturing at least 51 Serb civilians around Gnjilane in eastern Kosovo after fighting ended in 1999.

A 10th suspect is being held in Presevo in southern Serbia.

All 10 former KLA members were arrested in Presevo on Friday.

Map of Serbia

Serbia continues to regard Kosovo as part of its own territory.

On Sunday, some 4,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrated in Presevo against the arrests, saying they were an attempt to push ethnic Albanians out of the area.

The speaker of the Kosovan parliament, Jakup Krasniqi, has called on Serbia to free the suspects.

The KLA waged an insurgency against Belgrade in 2001 which was ended with the help of Nato and EU diplomacy.

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