Handicap International secures release for mine blast workers

Joe Gill

Handicap International has won the release of a British de-mining expert and his Bosnian assistant who were arrested in Albania after an explosion at a de-mining training centre killed two Albanian trainees (Third Sector, 9 June).

Graham Rees and Emin Durakovic were released on bail by the Court of Appeal in Shkorda after being held for three weeks. They were immediately moved to neighbouring Kosovo where the charity's de-mining team is based.

Both men are said to be in good condition. They were arrested last month on arrival in Albania to investigate the 24 May explosion at the charity's de-mining training centre, the first accident in 10 years of its de-mining operations.

A supposedly defused munition was given to the charity by a member of the official Albanian Mine Action executive, according to Handicap International UK director Karl Blanchet. The blast killed two and injured 10 Albanian trainees.

"Their release on bail puts an end to a difficult and worrying situation that implied to relatives and the Albanian community that our two experts were responsible for the accident," said Blanchet.

An official investigation is underway. The charity hopes now to restart the de-mining programme in Albania, which was halted after the explosion.

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