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Monday, 3 August, 1998, 00:28 GMT 01:28 UK
Serb police 'physically abused me' says Becker
sally becker
Becker says she will give details of mental and physical abuse she suffered 'in due course'
Serbian police "mentally and physically abused" Sally Becker during her detention in Kosovo, the charity worker has said.

Speaking through a representative Ms Becker, who arrived back in the UK last week after spending a week in a Serb prison, has given her own account of the events surrounding her arrest for crossing from Albania to Kosovo without a visa last month.

Ms Becker, 37, "crossed the Albania-Kosovo border at night with vital paediatric medicines" to take to besieged areas within the Serbian province.

'Crammed in dark, damp cellars'

She "walked for eight hours through the forests down the mountains carrying the heavy load and unable to use a torch, because of the danger from Serbian patrols."

She visited "a number of besieged areas, which were almost completely surrounded by Serb forces, pounded day and night by rocket-propelled grenades", and found "women, children and the elderly crammed together in dark, damp cellars beneath the rubble of their homes."

"Some of the children were wounded or sick and unable to receive medical treatment."

Ms Becker then made her way up the mountain to the border with 15 children and their mothers because "I could not leave them to die".

'I begged troops to stop shooting'

On reaching the outskirts of a forest, the group "was fired upon by Serb military forces".

Most of the group fled back into the forest. A woman and two children were left behind, and Ms Becker says she "covered their bodies as best she could on the ground and, for an hour while bullets and grenades exploded about them, the baby screamed 'Mama!' over and over."

Eventually Ms Becker "walked out into the open with her arms in the air and begged the troops to stop shooting."

After being arrested she spent "three days and three nights being mentally and physically abused by Serbian police."

Ms Becker was sentenced to 30 days in prison for illegally crossing the border. She went on hunger strike in protest against the fighting in the area, and was released after 15 days.

She has been banned from returning to Kosovo for three years but has pledged to continue working to help refugees fleeing from the region.

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18 Jul 98 | Europe
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