Judges quote Russian connection in Montenegro coup trial

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Judges in the trial of alleged plotters against Montenegro's government have rejected a defense request for their release from prison, partly because of their Russian connection.

The trial of 14 suspects opened in the small Balkan country last week. The defendants are charged with "creating a criminal organization" with the aim of thwarting Montenegro's pro-Western government's bid to join NATO and installing a pro-Russian government.

Two suspected Russian members of Moscow's secret service are charged with coordinating the Oct. 16 foiled coup attempt from neighboring Serbia. They were allowed to leave Serbia for Russia and are being tried in absentia.

The chief judge said Monday the detained suspects cannot be released because they could intimidate prosecution witnesses in coordination with the two Russians.

Montenegro joined NATO in June despite Russian opposition.