MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
14 May 1999
Pratt And Wallace Indictments
The Government is extremely disappointed by Yugoslavia's decision to indict Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace on charges of allegedly spying.
At my instruction, the Department today called in the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and asked him to convey to his Government our concern and disappointment.
Yesterday we received confirmation from the men's lawyers in Belgrade that charges had been laid against them.
Steve Pratt has been charged under Article 128 (2) of the Federal Criminal Code of Yugoslavia, allegedly for organising an intelligence service or agency. Peter Wallace (along with four others) has been charged under Article 128 (3) of the came Code, for allegedly supporting an intelligence operation. Both charges carry potential prison sentences.
We are now studying the detail of the charges in consultation with the men's lawyers and Ambassador Chris Lamb in Belgrade. The men may be brought to trial shortly.
The Australian Government reiterates that both men are simply humanitarian aid workers who should be released and allowed to leave Yugoslavia. There is no justification for the case against them. Until they are free, the Australian Government will not rest in our campaign to get them out.
The case against the men can only jeopardise humanitarian assistance at a time when Yugoslavia needs it most.
The Australian Government expects that the proceedings will be conducted fairly and in conformity with all international and domestic human rights standards. Australia's Special Envoy, Mr Fraser was assured that this would be the case by the Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Mr Jovanovic on 23 April.
The families of both
men have been informed by my office of this development.
|For further information:||
Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Tony Melville 02 6261 1555
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