Belgrade burial for Milosevic

The news was announced by his longtime legal advisor Zdenko Tomanovic speaking to journalists outside the United Nations war crimes court.

Another member of Milosevic’s legal team, Branko Rakic, said the funeral would be held “certainly this week”.

Earlier Tuesday Milosevic’s son, Marko, collected his father’s body after it was released from the morgue in The Hague and was given a motorcycle escort to Amsterdam’s Shipol Airport.

A Belgrade court had revoked an arrest warrant for Milosevic’s widow, Mira Markovic, clearing the path for her to return to the country to bury her husband.

Slobodan Milosevic, 64, was found dead Saturday in his cell at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslovia (ICTY) detention center in The Hague.

There he was standing trial for alleged genocide in the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s that claimed more than 200,000 lives, including those of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys who were massacred in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

Arrest warrant lifted

The family pushed for a Belgrade burial but it was previously not possible for Milosevic’s widow to return to Serbia because she is wanted on fraud charges.

A Belgrade court suspended the warrants against Mira Markovic but ordered her to give up her passport on arrival and to report to a Serbian court on March 23 or face arrest.

Questions surround death

Earlier on Tuesday a team of Russian doctors was in The Hague to investigate Milosevic’s death in UN custody after Moscow questioned official autopsy findings.

The initial autopsy carried out by Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) found that the former Yugoslav president suffered a fatal heart attack.

A spokesman for the NFI said the Russian team had request specific information regarding its autopsy.

“They wanted to be informed of the methods we used for conducting the autopsy and for carrying out the toxicological analysis,” NFI spokesman Ivo Hommes said.

ICTY wait for results

Meanwhile the prosecutor at the ICTY, Carla Del Ponte, said Tuesday, the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic deliberately aggravated his own state of health possibly in order to commit suicide.

“As far as I know, it was he who decided that his state of health should deteriorate. He secretly took medicines,” Ms Del Ponte told Le Monde newspaper.

“We’ll have to wait for the results of the tests to know what was in his blood. Naturally if these elements are confirmed, we’ll be able to say that he made his own state of health worse in order to go to Moscow or that he wanted to commit suicide,” she said.

“He’s dealt us a nasty blow. After all we did! It is incredible,” she said.

“I am looking to the future. I want Radovan Karadzic, I want Ratko Mladic. The court has to come back to life because right now it is in a coma,” she added.

No state funeral

Serbian President Boris Tadic has dismissed requests for a state funeral for Milosevic, pointing to his role in the Balkan conflict and his ousting in a popular uprising in 2000.

The former president is revered by a hard core of nationalists but reviled by others for bringing shame to the nation.

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