Serb police arrest 9 suspects in US Embassy fire

  • Article by: DUSAN STOJANOVIC
  • Associated Press
  • April 11, 2012 - 5:59 AM

BELGRADE, Serbia - Serbian police have detained nine people accused of setting fire to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade in 2008 during riots against Kosovo's independence and were searching Wednesday for at least five more suspects.

The nine, mostly soccer hooligans, were arrested in several raids Tuesday and early Wednesday in different Serbian towns and cities, including the capital of Belgrade.

Hundreds of nationalist rioters stormed the U.S. embassy on Feb. 21, 2008, in anger over Washington's support for the statehood of Kosovo, the predominantly ethnic Albanian province that had declared independence from Serbia.

One suspect has been tried for taking part in the attack, which killed one rioter. He faces between two and 12 years in prison if found guilty.

The incident had triggered tensions between the U.S. and the former government of nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, whose interior ministry failed to provide police protection for the embassy during the riots.

The U.S. Embassy welcomed "the action taken to bring to justice those responsible" for the attack, and also called for legal action against officials who inspired the riots.

"It is important to pursue justice against not only those who participated in the actual attack, but also against those in authority who ordered or otherwise supported this egregious violation of domestic and international law," the embassy statement said.

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