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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 20:55 GMT
Mourners greet Milosevic's return
The coffin coming out of the aircraft at Belgrade
Supporters turned out to see the former president returned to Serbia
Supporters of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have turned out to witness the return of his body to Serbia from the Netherlands.

A crowd of a few hundred watched as his coffin, draped in a Serbian flag, was placed in a hearse at Belgrade airport.

Mr Milosevic's body will go on display in the Serbian capital on Thursday, before he is buried in his home town of Pozarevac on Saturday, officials say.

He died in detention in The Hague last week while on trial for war crimes.

The plane carrying Mr Milosevic's coffin arrived in Belgrade at 1545 local time (1445 GMT).

A delegation from Mr Milosevic's Socialist Party draped the coffin in a Serbian flag and placed a wreath of red roses on it.

We expect a great gathering of people to come to give their last respects
Socialist Party vice-president Branko Ruzic

The coffin was placed in a van, which drove slowly past the crowd, who tried to touch it and threw flowers on it.

Socialist Party officials plan to put Mr Milosevic's body on display for two days in a Belgrade museum.

Party vice-president Branko Ruzic told the BBC he expected a "great gathering of people coming to give their last respects".

Nationalist sentiment

The decision to hold the funeral in Serbia ends days of wrangling over Mr Milosevic's final resting place.

Reaction on Belgrade's streets

His son Marko Milosevic had been pushing for a burial in Serbia and had accused the authorities of trying to prevent it.

There are fears the event could trigger an outpouring of nationalist emotion, and Serbian authorities have ruled out a state funeral.

Mr Ruzic said that the Socialist party was determined that Mr Milosevic should have a funeral worthy of a former head of state.

"Our aim is to provoke the officials in Belgrade, the prime minister and the president of Serbia, Mr Tadic, to show some respect and show some political wisdom and it was our aim to organise a state funeral," he told the BBC.

Widow

It appeared possible that Mr Milosevic's widow Mira could attend the funeral after a Belgrade court decided to suspend an arrest warrant against her.

MILOSEVIC SCHEDULE
1430 GMT Wednesday 15 March - Body arrives at Belgrade airport and is transferred to morgue
1100 GMT Thursday 16 March - Body goes on public view at Revolution Museum in Belgrade
Friday 17 March - Body remains on public view
1100 GMT Saturday 18 March - Farewell ceremony, then departure for Pozarevac
1300 GMT Saturday 18 March - Public viewing in Pozarevac City Hall
1400 GMT Saturday 18 March - Burial in grounds of family home

She has been living in self-imposed exile in Russia, fearing arrest on fraud charges if she returns to her home country.

However the court has said that she must surrender her passport on arrival and appear before a judge on 23 March.

Mr Milosevic's family has accused the UN war crimes tribunal of causing the former president's death by refusing to allow him to travel to Russia for medical treatment and Marko Milosevic has claimed that his father was murdered.

Cause of death

But on Wednesday morning a Russian doctor reviewing the results of an official autopsy agreed with Dutch doctors the indicted war criminal had died of a heart attack.

However the doctor said his death could have been prevented.

"That's my opinion, that his death was preventable. Absolutely. Because he had a pathology which is treated at any place in the world at the moment," Leo Bokeria, director of Russia's Bakulev Cardio-Vascular Centre, told reporters.

HAVE YOUR SAY
This is one occasion where the trial of the defendant needs to be finished even after the defendant's death
A Smith, Brentwood, UK

Full results from an autopsy conducted on Mr Milosevic by Dutch authorities on Sunday are still 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 unconfirmed findings have raised questions over what caused Mr Milosevic's heart attack, but the tribunal says he received competent medical supervision.




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Milosevic's mourners gathered at Belgrade airport




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