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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 March 2006, 19:48 GMT
Milosevic buried in his home town
Supporters turned out in numbers to honour their "hero"

Ex-Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic has been buried in his Serbian home town a week after dying at The Hague while on trial for war crimes.

He was laid in a grave in Pozarevac after tens of thousands attended a farewell ceremony in Belgrade.

Serbia's government refused to allow the ex-leader a state funeral and did not attend the ceremonies.

But a BBC correspondent says many war crime survivors will be horrified by continuing support for Mr Milosevic.

He had been on trial since 2001 for war crimes and genocide relating to the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.

'Home to stay'

The coffin was lowered into the ground in the backyard of his family home, under a tree where he once courted his future wife, Mirjana Markovic.

A murderer and his crimes were glorified today
Vuk Draskovic
Foreign Minister

A simple granite slab carved with his name and the dates 1941-2006 marks the plot - a double grave where his widow reportedly intends to be also buried eventually.

Mirjana Markovic and other immediate family members - who have been living outside Serbia - were not present at the funeral but letters attributed to them were read out over the grave.

"Criminals who killed you maybe want my life and the life of our children," the widow's letter read. "You have returned home to stay here forever in this spot."

'Greatest son'

Before the coffin was brought to Pozarevac, about 50,000 people attended a memorial ceremony outside the federal parliament of Serbia and Montenegro in Belgrade.

Many wept, clutching photos of the former leader and shouting his nickname "Slobo, Slobo".

Milosevic supporter surrounded by posters

"I came to say goodbye to the greatest son of Serbia," Bosko Nikolic, 42, from the south-western Serbian town of Prokuplje, told the Associated Press news agency.

Many others were bussed in from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, where wars between ethnic Serbs and other nationalities led to the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s while Mr Milosevic was in power.

Several former Yugoslav army generals were present in Belgrade, including war crimes suspect Dragoljub Ojdanic, freed by the Hague tribunal pending trial.

Few foreign dignitaries attended, although a senior MP from Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party was present in a private capacity.

Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, a long-time Milosevic supporter, was among the speakers.

'Murder glorified'

People in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo will no doubt be disgusted at the tributes being paid to a man who died an indicted war criminal, says the BBC's Matt Prodger.

Many Serbs have viewed the funeral with indifference or hostility.

In 2003, the funeral of assassinated Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, one of Mr Milosevic's greatest political enemies, was attended by about five times as many people in Belgrade.

Anti-Milosevic party in Belgrade
Anti-Milosevic activists celebrated in Belgrade during the funeral

"All of Belgrade's squares would be too small for all the victims of Milosevic and his rule," Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic said on Saturday.

"A murderer and his crimes were glorified today."

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Milosevic died from a heart attack.

An interim report by the Dutch national forensic institute said tests on Mr Milosevic's body had found no trace of poisoning - or unprescribed drugs - that could have prompted the attack.

Mr Milosevic's supporters, however, insist he was poisoned.

Questions were raised about the cause of his fatal heart problem after it was reported he had been taking medicines that were not prescribed by UN doctors.

See the grave where Milosevic is buried

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