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Kosovar rebels on trial for war crimes

BELGRADE, Serbia, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Nine Kosovar rebels went on trial for war crimes in Belgrade Wednesday while eight others still on the run are being tried in absentia.

The Italian news agency Adnkronos reported the nine defendants, allegedly members of the "Gnjilane group," were arrested last December in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, bordering Kosovo.

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They are accused of killing at least 80 Serbs and other non-Albanians in Gnjilane in 1999 when Serbian forces withdrew from Kosovo and the region was put under U.N. control, the news agency said.

Bruno Vekaric, a spokesman for the special court, called it a "high-risk trial" because of the ethnic issues and it's not known where the eight fugitives are hiding.

The 17 defendants were members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which rebelled against Serbian rule in 1998.

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