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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK

UK Politics

Playwright Pinter challenges Nato

Mr Robertson denied Nato had breached the Geneva Convention

UK Defence Secretary George Robertson has clashed with playwright Harold Pinter over civilian deaths in Yugoslavia.

Kosovo: Special Report
Mr Pinter suggested the bombing of the headquarters of the Serb state television station was an act of murder.

Ten people were reported to have died in the attack on 23 April.

But Mr Robertson said: "I deny and refute that absolutely completely. Mr Pinter has obviously got a new occupation but I know his views.

"The media there acts as an extension of the brains behind the brutality and that is why they have been the target.''

[ image: Mr Pinter is working on a TV programme about the Kosovo conflict]
Mr Pinter is working on a TV programme about the Kosovo conflict
The playwright, who working on a programme about the conflict called Counterblast, said the Geneva Convention said civilians should not be attacked unless they had a direct role in hostilities.

He spoke out during Friday's daily Ministry of Defence briefing.

Mr Robertson, speaking via a video link from the Albanian capital of Tirana, said the allies were getting "closer and closer to the brains behind the brutality".

Thursday night had seen the most intense action against Belgrade yet, the briefing was told.

Meanwhile, Nato's campaign is to be bolstered by a further 10 B-52 bombers from the US. They will be based at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire.

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