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Bosnian Serbs Free Monitor Reporter

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BOSNIAN Serb leader Radovan Karadzic yesterday released Christian Science Monitor reporter David Rohde. Mr. Rohde had been detained by the Bosnian Serbs since Oct. 29, when he drove alone into Bosnian Serb-held territory.

''The Monitor is delighted that David Rohde has been released,'' Monitor Editor David Cook said.

In a statement faxed to the Associated Press, Mr. Karadzic said Rohde was freed ''as a sign of goodwill and contribution to the peace talks'' in Dayton, Ohio.

A Bosnian Serb police official in Bijeljina, the town in northeastern Bosnia where Rohde was imprisoned, said Rohde was turned over to Serbian officials, who he said mediated the release. Rohde was taken to Belgrade, the Serbian capital, where he was turned over to the US Embassy. He is expected to return to the US with his brother, Lee.

Bosnian Serb authorities say they tried and convicted Rohde last week on charges of entering their territory illegally with falsified documents. The trial was held in Serbo-Croatian, with no interpreter, no defense lawyer, and no US official present. He was sentenced to 15 days in prison. The Bosnian Serb press agency also claimed Rohde was facing charges for ''the most serious form of espionage, punishable by three to 15 years (imprisonment) in peacetime and 10 years to death in wartime,'' AP reported. But it also said Karadzic was considering pardoning Rohde after receiving a letter from the reporter's father, Harvey Rohde.

The announcement followed days of effort by American and United Nations officials, Rohde family members, and Monitor editors. Rohde's brother, Lee Rohde, arrived in Sarajevo Tuesday hoping to meet David Rohde upon his release.


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