Milosevic's Funeral Will Be Held in Serbia
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, I'm Robert Siegel.
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A host of problems has followed the unexpected death three days ago of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. The international court that was trying him for war crimes is under scrutiny for it's handling of a sick prisoner, and Serbian leaders are having to grapple with how and where to bury him.
Sylvia Poggioli reports from Belgrade.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI reporting:
Belgrade was under a blanket of snow today, but about 100 die hard Milosevic supporters braved the cold and lined up outside his Socialist Party headquarters to pay their respects. The average age of the mourners appeared to be about 65.
Mitar Radanovich (ph), could not hold back his tears.
Mr. MITAR RADANOVICH (Serbian citizen): (Through translator) He was my god, he was my commander. Those now, they are not my president.
POGGIOLI: Radanovich blamed the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Mr. RADANOVICH: (Through translator) They killed him, they poisoned him, they wouldn't let him go to the hospital.
POGGIOLI: Upstairs at party headquarters, Udo Slivokovich (ph) said the Socialist Party is demanding that Milosevic be buried here in Belgrade, and that this family be allowed to attend. He warned the government of Prime Minister Vojslav Kostuniza not to deny these requests.
Mr. UDO SLIVOKOVICH (Socialist Party, Belgrade): (Through translator) The political consequences would with out question, be the fall of the government.
POGGIOLI: The burial issue is a hot potato for the Kostuniza government, which depends on the socialist votes in parliament.
President Boris Tadic has already ruled out a state funeral, saying it would be absolutely inappropriate, considering the role Milosevic played in Serbia's recent history. And the mayor of Belgrade, Nenad Bogdanovic who has jurisdiction over all cemeteries in the capital, said he would not authorize Milosevic's burial in the section of the main cemetery reserved for distinguished citizens.
But at the same time, a local court is examining the possibility of lifting an international arrest warrant for Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic, who is wanted here on corruption charges.
There was frenetic activity also at the headquarters of Sloboda, also known as the Committee for the Liberation of Slobodan Milosevic. Committee spokesman Vladimir Krustianen (ph), said the committee is considering the possibility of filing charges against the international tribunal for negligence in its handling of Milosevic, who was known to be in very poor health.
Krustianen points out that recent tests showed traces in Milosevic's blood of an antibiotic, which apparently blunts the effect of medicines he had been prescribed by his doctors for his heart and blood pressure problems.
The day before he died, Milosevic wrote a letter to the Russian Foreign Minister saying he believed he was being poisoned. Krustianen said it was impossible to smuggle anything into Milosevic's prison cell.
Mr. VLADIMIR KRUSTIANEN (Committee for the Liberation of Slobodan Milosevic): He was receiving six medications for his blood pressure and heart condition. When you add whatever to that complex combination, especially some strong medication, you can hardly predict what can be the consequences. But maybe someone wanted to produce consequences, knowing in advance what they would be.
POGGIOLI: Krustianen's committee is demanding a formal investigation by the U.N. Secretary General. The International War Crimes in Tribunal in the Hague is being criticized not only die hard Milosevic reporters. Pro Western President Boris Tadic said this evening he believed the Tribunal is ultimately responsible for Milosevic's death, because it rejected his request to go to Russia for specialist medical treatment.
Milosevic's death came only a week after another Serb prisoner, Milan Bobic(ph) killed himself in jail. Daniel Kontic (ph), Secretary General of the liberal think tank European movement says the international community should investigate prison conditions at the International Tribunal.
Mr. DANIEL KONTIC (European Movement): Two deaths, recent deaths, in the prison cells and I think this is a serious revelation of the conditions and how the medical treatment is delivered to people who are there and more sort of human approach.
POGGIOLI: In a sign of how worried the government is about a nationalist back lash, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic today appealed to the European Union to stop pressuring Belgrade to hand over war crimes suspects. The most wanted is an Ivlakom Matich (ph). Draskovic said nationalist anger is rising, and harsh treatment by Europe and the U.S. could make it harder for the government to control the situation.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR News, Belgrade.
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