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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2003, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Milosevic charged over killing of rival
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic is on trial for war crimes
Charges have been filed against ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic over the death of a former critic and rival.

Serb police have also filed charges against eight others suspected of being involved in the killing of one-time president of Serbia, Ivan Stambolic.

The body of Mr Stambolic - a friend turned foe of Mr Milosevic - was found last month buried in a ditch. He disappeared in August 2000.

The charges have been sent to the Belgrade district prosecutor's office which will investigate the case before deciding whether to issue indictments.

Mr Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, has been charged with incitement, according to Belgrade-based BKTV.

She strongly denied having any involvement in the murder after a warrant was issued for her arrest earlier in the month.

New leads

Ivan Stambolic had once been Mr Milosevic's mentor and was even best man at his wedding, but they fell out in the late 1980s.

Some believe he was killed because he posed a threat to his former colleague and friend.

Police investigating the 12 March assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic found his remains in a ditch in northern Serbia.

Ivan Stambolic and Slobodan Milosevic
Ivan Stambolic and Slobodan Milosevic were once friends

They said a crackdown on organised crime following Mr Djindjic's murder gave them new leads in the Stambolic case, according to Associated Press news agency.

A police official told the news agency: "We have evidence that Milosevic suggested Stambolic's 'permanent removal'."

Mr Stambolic was jogging in a Belgrade park three years ago when he was kidnapped and later shot.

The authorities said he had been abducted and killed by members of a special police force set up under Mr Milosevic.

Mr Milosevic is standing trial at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Ex-Serbian state security chief Radomir Markovic and former special police commander Milorad "Legija" Lukovic are said to be among the eight other suspects in the Stambolic killing.

Mr Lukovic is also believed to be a suspect in last month's assassination of Mr Djindjic.

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