BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- A judge sentenced a naturalized American citizen to seven years in jail Wednesday after he was convicted of participating in 'hostile activities' against Yugoslavia in the United States.
In Washington, congressmen called the development 'outrageous' and 'unbelievable' and urged a trade ban against Yugoslavia. A Michigan lawmaker said two other Americans have also been detained in Yugoslavia and called on the government to release all three immediately.
Petar Ivezaj, 30, an ethnic Albanian born in Yugoslavia, traveled from Sterling Heights, Mich., in July to Titograd and was arrested in August. Ivezaj did not renounce his Yugoslav citizenship after becoming an American and is considered a Yugoslav subject by the Belgrade government.
'As a citizen of Yugoslavia, Ivezaj took part in anti-Yugoslav demonstrations in Detroit, Chicago, and in Washington on April 13, 1982. He distributed leaflets and carried posters and signs which supported the counter-revolutionary, pro-Albanian, events in Kosovo' in southeastern Yuvoslavia, an indictment against him said.
Ivezaj, who went to the United States in 1972 and became an American citizen, was accused of planning activities against the constitution aimed at 'overthrowing the regime of Yugoslavia.'
He also was accused of 'association (with other people) aimed at carrying out hostile activities' against Yugoslavia and went on trial Oct. 3 in Titograd, the capital of the southern state of Montenegro.
Judge Sreten Ivanovic of the Titograd District Court said 'all accusations of the indictment were undoubtedly proved' and sentenced Ivezaj to seven years imprisonment.
In Washington, Rep. Gerry Solomon, R-N.Y., called for a trade ban because of 'mounting evidence Mr. Ivezaj's case falls into a pattern' of harassment of ethnic Albanians.
In the spring of 1981, ethnic Albanian extremists in Yugoslavia's southeastern Kosovo Province staged bloody anti-Yugoslav riots asking for more autonomy.
In the past five years, Yugoslav courts in Kosovo province and in neighboring Yugoslavia's Montenegro and Macedonia states have sentenced about 1,000 ethnic Albanian extremists to jail terms from one to 20 years for terrorist and other anti-Yugoslav activities, and another 2,500 have been sentenced by judges to a maximum of 60 days in jail or fined for pro-Albanian activities.
Rep. William Broomfield, R-Mich., said State Department officials had told him of the two other Americans detained in Yugoslavia. He identified one as Veroljub Radivojevic, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., arrested Sept. 23 while visiting his wife's parents in Belgrade.
Ken Nakamura, an aide to Broomfield, identified the second detained American as Gradimir Hadzic, whose hometown and age were not learned. Nakamura said no charges have been filed against the two, but that they have been denied access to U.S. officials.
'I believe the United States should suspend all trade with Yugoslavia until all three Americans are released immediately,' said Broomfield, adding he will try to cancel 'most favored nation' trade status for Yugoslavia, which except for neighboring Albania is Europe's only independent communist state.
'It is unbelievable to hear he got a seven-year sentence,' said House Foreign Affairs subcommitee chairman Gus Yatron, D-Pa. 'This is an outright injustice.'
Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., called the Ivezaj case 'outrageous. His crime apparently was a peaceful demonstration outside the embassy' in Washington.