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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 16:04 GMT
Milosevic widow allowed to return
Mira Markovic, widow of Slobodan Milosevic
Mira Markovic has been in self-imposed exile in Russia
A Serbian court has suspended an arrest warrant against Slobodan Milosevic's widow, allowing her to return if his funeral is held in Belgrade.

Mira Markovic has been living in self-imposed exile in Russia, fearing arrest on fraud charges if she returns.

Belgrade has said Mr Milosevic can be buried in Serbia but ruled out a state funeral for the former Yugoslav leader.

Mr Milosevic died of a heart attack in a prison cell in The Hague on Saturday. His son is due to collect the body.

Marko Milosevic - who flew from Russia to The Hague - has accused Serbia of trying to block a Belgrade funeral, suggesting Moscow as an alternative.

"The Belgrade authorities do not allow [Milosevic's funeral], they want to avoid it," he said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
His body should be cremated in secret, with no ceremony or family members allowed to attend
Richard Hopkins, Newport, UK

"As far as I know Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov agreed yesterday" to allow the funeral.

Marko Milosevic later told Reuters news agency his father "should be buried in the place where he belongs, in the capital of our country, there is no discussion about that".

But he added that "many obstacles" still remained, stressing that the priority "right now is the safety and life of my mother".

Surrender passport

Marko Milosevic's comments contradicted Serbian President Boris Tadic, who told the BBC on Monday it was up to the family to decide where the burial should be held.

He [Slobodan Milosevic] simply used Russia, trying to bring it into conflict with the West for his own advantage
Kommersant
Russian newspaper

Mr Tadic said although the arrest warrant may be postponed, charges could not be dropped altogether.

"If the Milosevic family is asking for some abolition [of the charges against Ms Markovic], I am not going to give them abolition, because of the role and responsibility of this family in the recent past," he said.

A Belgrade court statement said on Tuesday that: "The presiding judge in the case has accepted the guarantees offered so that Mirjana Markovic... will not be arrested in accordance with the warrants issued against her."

But it said she must surrender her passport on arrival, and appear before a judge in connection with the fraud charges on 23 March.

"The accused remains free as long as she responds to the court's summons," a spokeswoman said. "Otherwise she will be arrested and detained."

Lawyers have posted a bond worth $18,000 (10,000) to guarantee Mira Markovic's appearance in court to face relatively minor corruption charges.

Police also want to question her about the assassination in 2000 of former Serbian president Ivan Stambolic - a political rival of Mr Milosevic.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said later on Tuesday that the court ruling meant the funeral could take place in Serbia.

Russia sceptical

Mr Milosevic was on trial for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He died aged 64.

Marko Milosevic leaves Moscow for The Hague
Marko Milosevic accused Serbia of trying to block a Belgrade funeral

Four Russian doctors have been sent to The Hague to carry out their own medical enquiries, after Moscow said it did not trust the tribunal's autopsy.

Leo Bokeria, leading the Russian team, said he believed the correct medical examinations could have prevented Mr Milosevic's death.

"It's a great regret that they did not heed our numerous appeals for an examination," he said, referring to the tribunal's refusal to allow Mr Milosevic to go to Moscow for medical treatment in the months before his death.

Poison fear

Full results from the tribunal's autopsy are awaited, but a toxicologist who found traces of drugs in Mr Milosevic's blood two weeks before his death said they may have neutralised treatment for his heart conditions.

The findings have not been confirmed, but have raised questions over what caused Mr Milosevic's heart attack.

Before his death, Mr Milosevic alleged in a letter that he was being poisoned. A request to travel for medical treatment to Russia was turned down.

But the Dutch doctor who says he discovered the drugs said he believed Mr Milosevic may have taken them deliberately.

The international war crimes tribunal said Milosevic received competent medical supervision.

The Milosevic case was declared closed at a final hearing by the tribunal on Tuesday.




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