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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK


Freed Britons arrive home

The men arrived back in Heathrow covered in smiles

Two British television company workers arrested in Serbia last month have returned home.

TV engineer Ken Suckling, 53, and driver James Free, 33, landed at Heathrow on Friday evening, hours after they were released from prison.

They were arrested on 25 September in the city of Vranje, close to the Kosovo border, and sentenced to 15 days in prison for illegal entry.

[ image: Mr Suckling had plenty of experience abroad]
Mr Suckling had plenty of experience abroad
They had been returning to Britain from Kosovo after completing a two-week project to set up a UN-run public television station in the provincial capital, Pristina.

The men, who did not have visas to enter Serbia, accidentally strayed over the border after leaving Pristina by road.

Mr Suckling, from Portsmouth, and Mr Free, from London, had been planning to drive through Macedonia to Thessaloniki in Greece, before travelling on to Britain.

[ image: The pair had been in jail for two weeks]
The pair had been in jail for two weeks
Their nine-day disappearance led to an air and land search by members of the Nato-led Kosovo Protection Force (K-For) and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (Unmik) police before it emerged they were in custody in Serbia.

The two were released into the custody of Brazilian diplomats, who represent British interests in Yugoslavia.

They crossed by road into Macedonia after their release.

Both men work for UK-based equipment rental company SNG services

Mr Suckling has worked for the company for four years and is experienced in situations similar to Kosovo, providing TV facilities during the Rwandan civil war and in the Middle East.

Mr Free has visited the region several times in the past six months and was returning after delivering equipment to Pristina.

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