The coffin holding the body of the former Yugoslav president was lowered into the ground in the provincial town of Pozarevac, some 80km east of Belgrade, on Saturday.

None of his immediate family members were present but a letter from his widow was read out by one of the Socialist Party officials moments before his coffin was lowered.

 

Rallies

Earlier, tens of thousands gathered to pay their last respects to their leader, as a hearse carrying his remains left Belgrade for burial in Pozarevac.

Milosevic died last Saturday of heart failure in his cell at the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, where he was on trial for his role in the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Milosevic supporters massed in
front of parliament in Belgrade

Supporters of the former president, a central figure in the Balkan wars of the 1990s which killed at least 150,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes, waved banners and flags as they demonstrated outside the federal parliament in Belgrade.

Pro-democracy activists who ousted Milosevic six years ago held their own rally nearby later in the day in an effort to show that diehard nationalists no longer held sway.

Opponents of Milosevic gathered in Belgrade for an "anti-funeral" rally to coincide with his burial.

 

Waving colourful balloons and noisily blowing whistles, at least 2000 protesters gathered in the Serbian capital's main Republic Square to counter the wave of nationalism in the country following Milosevic's death.

Denied state funeral

Supporters follow the hearse
carrying Milosevic

In Srebrenica, the Bosnian town where some 8000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces in Europe's worst massacre since the second world war, there was no sympathy for the death of a man many say escaped justice.

The former president was denied the state funeral his supporters said he had a right to, but they made sure his coffin was on public display in Belgrade since Thursday as if lying in state.

Former army officers in ceremonial uniforms flanked the coffin draped in a Serbian flag and former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, a longtime supporter of Milosevic, was among those to give a speech.