A KOSOVAN teenager living in Blaenau Gwent faces an agonising wait in his battle to remain in the UK.

Edmond Pone, 18, who lives in Blaina, came to Wales in 1999 after being found stowed away in a lorry in Tredegar with fellow Kosovan Krenar Lleshi, also 18.

The pair, who were escaping the aftermath of the Serbian occupation, were taken into the foster care of Julia Gregg and Steve Crandon from Ebbw Vale. Edmond, who now lives on his own in a supportive housing scheme, had his rejection for asylum refused by the Home Office.

Yesterday Edmond told an Immigration Appellate Authority appeal hearing at Newport's Pentonville Magistrates Court he would fear for his life if returned.

He said: "There are bombs going off, people are getting killed every day, soldiers are getting killed."

Asked by his solicitor, Bart Obszynski, to describe life under Serb occupation, he answered: "You could see people on the streets dying and starving - it was terrifying."

Mr Obszynski argued that Edmond should be allowed exceptional leave to remain in the UK. Edmond, who is studying to be a brick-layer and hopes to be a surveyor, told the court his parents live in Albania and has not seen them for four years. He added he had no idea where his two brothers and sisters were.

More than 20 people from all over Gwent attended to support him.

As previously reported by the Argus, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, submitted a character reference in his favour.

His foster mother, Miss Gregg, told the court: "Edmond is one of the most fantastic, coolest, most sarcastic people I have ever met in my life. We adore him."

But the Home Office's presenting officer, Chris Howells, said Edmond left Kosovo after the Serbian Army had withdrawn and the province was secured by a United Nation security force.

Mr Howells said stability had returned to the area and 800,000 ethnic Albanians had returned to live there.

The adjudicator, Miss AD Baker, decided to defer her decision. Mr Obszynski said the adjudication, to be received in writing, should take between two and four weeks.

* Pictured: Edmond Pone with Julia Gregg and Steve Crandon