PARIS (AFP) - World computer sales fell a record 6.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009 against the same period last year because of the economic crisis, US technology market research group Gartner said on Thursday. Gartner is predicting a drop in sales of 11.9 percent over 2009 as a whole. The biggest decline was in Latin America, where computer sales fell 12.4 percent in the first quarter on a 12-month comparison. This was followed by the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, where sales dropped 10.2 percent. Central and Eastern Europe were particularly badly affected, with sales plunging by 25 percent in Russia, Ukraine and Baltic states all once-buoyant economies that are now facing painful recessions because of the crisis. Computer sales in the United States fell by just 0.3 percent because of the popularity of low-cost models and US tech company Hewlett Packard remained the global leader with a 19.8-percent share of the market, the research found.