Serbia charges 12 over setting fire to US embassy

Serbia charged 12 people accused of setting fire to the U.S. embassy during riots against Kosovo's independence in 2008.

The suspects were charged with committing "grave acts against general security" and violent behavior, Vladimir Djordjevic, a senior official at the prosecutor's office told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Djordjevic said the suspects face up to 12 years in prison each if convicted.

Hundreds of extremists stormed the embassy on Feb. 21, 2008, angry over Washington's support for the independence of Kosovo — a predominantly ethnic Albanian former province that most Serbs view as a national heartland.

The attackers, mostly soccer hooligans, threw stones and flares at the embassy building, breaking the windows and setting it on fire. The extremists also attacked other Western embassies in the Serbian capital. One person died in the rioting.

It was not immediately clear when the trial would start. A separate trial is ongoing against another suspect also charged in the attack.

The incident caused tensions in U.S.-Serbia relations.

Serbia lost control over Kosovo after a 1998-99 war, but has refused to recognize its independence. About 10,000 people died during the conflict, which ended after NATO bombed Serbia to force it to stop the bloodshed.