Row over Milosevic burial place

The body of Slobodan Milosevic has been taken to a mortuary at Amsterdam airport on its way to an unknown final resting place, while his family is scrapping with Serbian officials over where to bury the former Yugoslav leader.

    Milosevic died on Saturday of heart failure in a Hague prison

    Hours after Milosevic's son Marko came to the Netherlands to claim his father's body on Tuesday, his body was driven to Schiphol airport under motorcycle escort, where it was due to remain overnight.

     

    Mortuary official Theo de Aardt told AFP he thought it would be flown to Moscow on Wednesday. "We think to Russia but we don't know 

    that for sure," he said.

     

    A court in Belgrade earlier revoked an arrest warrant for  Milosevic's widow, Mira Markovic, enabling her to return to Serbia for the first time in three years and attend Milosevic's funeral if it is held there.

     

    But the court's decision was laced with stringent conditions,  including an order to surrender her passport and to report to a Serbian court on 23 March on fraud charges or face arrest.

     

    Burial plot plea

     

    Milosevic's political party and his son also complained that  authorities were refusing to provide a decent burial plot at the city's main cemetery.

     

    He said he had sought, and received, permission from authorities  in Moscow for a temporary burial of the body in the Russian capital.

     

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

    There are fears that Milosevic's
    death will fuel Serb nationalism

    Milosevic, 64, was found dead on Saturday in his prison  cell while on trial at the UN court in The Hague on charges of genocide, other war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the brutal Balkans conflicts of the 1990s.

     

    An autopsy by Dutch and Serbian pathologists listed the cause of death as a heart attack.

     

    A team of Russian doctors was in The Hague on Tuesday to investigate Milosevic's death after Moscow questioned official autopsy findings.

     

    Officials at the Netherlands Forensic Institute were thought to have briefed the four doctors on Tuesday afternoon on the  autopsy carried out on Sunday that concluded that Milosevic had died of a heart attack.


    Toxicologist's report

     

    New questions arose over the circumstances of the death after Donald Uges, a Dutch toxicologist who examined Milosevic's blood two weeks before he died, said he had taken drugs to neutralise the effects of heart medication and secure "a one-way ticket to Moscow" for treatment.

     

    Significantly, Carla Del Ponte, the chief war crimes prosecutor, confirmed to France's Le Monde newspaper on Tuesday that Milosevic "secretly took medicines".

     

    Serbian lawyer shows Milosevic's
    letter to Russia before he died

    She said: "We will 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."

     

    Earlier in on Tuesday, the UN court formally closed the book on the historic war crimes trial, taking just a few minutes to wrap up a case that heard evidence of some of the worst atrocities in Europe since the second world war, but ultimately failed to prove Milosevic's guilt.

     

    Patrick Robinson, the presiding judge, said the "untimely passing" of the former Yugoslav leader had "deprived not only him, but indeed all the interested parties of a judgement upon the allegations in the indictment".

     

    The Balkans conflicts claimed more than 200,000 lives, including those of nearly 8000 Muslim men and boys who were massacred in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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