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 Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 22:53 GMT
Milosevic wife angry at visa refusal
Mira Markovic
Mira Markovic has watched the whole trial on TV

Mira Markovic, Slobodan Milosevic's devoted wife, has described the decision to prevent her from visiting her husband in The Hague as part of the effort to weaken his resistance and undermine his defence.

Mrs Markovic's spokeswoman, Dragana Kuzmanovic, confirmed on Wednesday that the Dutch consulate in Belgrade had rejected her application for a visa, even though the authorities at the war crimes tribunal had given the go-ahead for another visit.

Mrs Markovic has visited her husband several times since his incarceration at the Scheveningen detention centre on the outskirts of The Hague last summer.

She is proud of the way he defends not only himself, but the Serbian people, our history and our traditions

Dragana Kuzmanovic
Since the trial began, she has watched every moment from her home, said Ms Kuzmanovic. The proceedings are being broadcast on one channel, B92, whose journalists Mr Milosevic harassed while he was in power.

Ms Kuzmanovic said no explanation for the visa rejection was offered by the Dutch.

But she said the authorities knew how close Mr Milosevic and his wife were, and they were trying to weaken the former president by exerting psychological pressure.

"He has shown to everyone that he is strong, that he is speaking the truth," she said, adding Mrs Markovic was trying to find a solution to the problem.

Slobodan Milosevic has asked the panel of three judges presiding over his case to intervene on his behalf, saying the visa denial is part of his mistreatment in custody.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry said Mrs Markovic had given too little notice for the required security measures to be put in place.

Powerful woman

Mrs Markovic is seen in Serbia as a woman who exerted a powerful influence over her husband's decisions.

Many say she should face charges in Belgrade, for crimes committed against the Serbian people, although no legal action has been initiated in the 16 months since the overthrow of Mr Milosevic.

Ms Kuzmanovic said Mrs Markovic, who is still president of the ultra-communist Union of the Yugoslav Left political party, had received many more messages of support after the start of the trial than when her husband was waiting for it to begin, from Yugoslavia and abroad.

Slobodan Milosevic in court
Milosevic says being denied a visit is part of mistreatment
"She is proud of the way he defends not only himself, but the Serbian people, our history and our traditions," said Ms Kuzmanovic. "He is defending every citizen of Yugoslavia."

The Serbian Government, in keeping with the legal parameters of the case, insists that one man, not one people, is on trial.

After Mr Milosevic's first address, his wife described his attitude towards his accusers as "totally superior and relaxed".

"People who are lying cannot be that convincing and self-assured," she said.

Here Mrs Markovic will find broad agreement among many Serbs. Many have been openly admiring of what they say is the former president's controlled performance and his mastery of the arguments in the defence of a legitimate struggle against Albanian terrorism.


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