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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 22:03 GMT 23:03 UK
Milosevic wife makes prison visit
Mira Markovic
Mira Markovic on the plane to the Netherlands
The wife of the former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, has spent several hours with her husband at the Dutch prison where he is awaiting trial on war crimes charges.

Mira Markovic, making her first visit since he was extradited in June, had flown into the Netherlands for a three-day trip early on Thursday.

It is not known what the couple discussed, but Ms Markovic is widely regarded as her husband's most important political adviser.

Hugs and farewells in Belgrade from daughter-in-law Milica

She declined to comment to reporters before or after visiting him.

Ms Markovic, 59, was granted a visa last week to travel to the jail in the leafy The Hague suburb of Scheveningen.

The European Union had agreed to relax a travel ban on close associates of Mr Milosevic.

Tribunal charges

The ex-president was dramatically extradited to The Hague in June to face charges over the deaths of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague tribunal
Milosevic has appeared once before the tribunal
Prosecutors say charges over the wars in Bosnia and Croatia are likely to be added to the list.

Ms Markovic's travel plans will be strictly controlled.

A tribunal spokesman said Ms Markovic would probably only have access to the tribunal's prison.

Personal devastation

Reports have said Ms Markovic wants to rent an apartment in The Hague for the duration of her husband's trial, which is expected to last several years.

She was said to be devastated by his extradition.

A BBC correspondent in Belgrade, Ray Furlong, says Ms Markovic may bolster Mr Milosevic's defiance of the Hague tribunal.

He says she is widely regarded as a behind-the-scenes powerbroker, who influenced all her husband's major decisions.

Ms Markovic herself says she devoted her life to him, preparing his food and giving him support.

But she also had her own network of power and her own political party, whose influence reached far beyond its small voter base.

Conjugal visits

In an interview this week, Ms Markovic said she had advised Mr Milosevic to make a deal with the current Yugoslav authorities to avoid being extradited, but that he was too stubborn to do so.

The tribunal does not give details of detainees' private matters, but couples can typically expect to be provided with rooms for conjugal visits, known as "intimacy rooms".

Ms Markovic said in a recent magazine interview that she felt lost without her husband and still found him "cute and likeable".

"What can I say? He is my hero," she said.

The BBC's Justin Webb reports
"There has been a suggestion Mrs Milosevic herself would face charges"
The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"Mira Markovic has permission to visit her husband for three days. But her movement... will be strictly controlled"
See also:

07 Jul 01 | Europe
Milosevic's wife bids for visa
10 Apr 01 | Europe
What next for Mira Markovic?
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