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Jacky Rowland reports on the Belgrade funeral
"A brass band led mourners through the graveyard, past members of Arkan's militia"
 real 28k

Martin Bell, former BBC Balkans correspondent
"His life was always going to be a short one"
 real 28k

Thursday, 20 January, 2000, 16:24 GMT
Thousands bid farewell to Arkan

Arkan's grave People packed the graveside to pay their last respects

Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of the Serbian paramilitary leader, Arkan, where some of his feared paramilitaries formed an honour guard.

The 47-year-old warlord, whose real name is Zeljko Raznatovic, was gunned down with two associates in the lobby of a Belgrade hotel on Saturday.

Some 2,000 mourners attended the funeral in Belgrade on Thursday. Uniformed members of the Tigers - a unit of Arkan's Serb Volunteer Guard - carried the coffin, followed by family members, including his wife, the folk singer Ceca.

Ceca and militiamen Arkan's widow, Ceca, and militiamen at the funeral
Borislav Pelevic, a leading Guard member, said in his eulogy that Arkan had saved Serbs from genocide.

"You have become a legend even during your lifetime, since you have defended the Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia. Without you, they would not exist.

"Commander, I hereby submit the last report: The status of the Serb Volunteer Guard is normal, the status of the party is regular."

The Tigers then folded the Serbian flag draping the coffin and handed it to Mihailo, the eldest of Arkan's nine children. A brass band played an old Serbian anthem, God Give Us Justice.

There is no doubt that the (state security) service killed him
Tiger militiaman

The International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague indicted Arkan for atrocities allegedly committed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. His guard was disbanded after the conflict ended in 1995, but some members continued operations in Kosovo.

Conflicting reports

The day of the funeral, two pro-government newspapers carried varying accounts of the police hunt for his killer. The police have yet to make a report.

The Raznatovic family tomb in Belgrade The Raznatovic family tomb in Belgrade
Politika newspaper reported that police had identified the killer, who was still in hiding; while the Dnevnik daily said police had arrested the assassin, said to be Goran Jevtovic, a member of Arkan's own militia.

Politika said police knew the identity of the killer.

"The opposition parties who rushed with their statements saying that the murder was an act of state terrorism have made fools of themselves by making this political move."

Speculation has been rife that the Yugoslav Government played a role in killing Arkan to stop him possibly giving evidence against President Slobodan Milosevic as part of a plea bargain with war crimes investigators.

Members of the Tigers echoed the conspiracy theories that Serbia's state security forces killed their leader on Wednesday.

"There is no doubt that the (state security) service killed him," said a militiaman.

Nikola Raznatovic, Arkan's son, at the funeral

But a spokesman for the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry repeated official denials of government involvement.

Both papers said the wounded accomplice of the killer, Dusan Gavric, was recovering in hospital after surgery. Other media reported that Mr Gavnic and another, unnamed, man had been detained.

The Serbian Ministry of Information refused to say whether the suspected assassin was among those arrested.

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See also:
20 Jan 00 |  Europe
In pictures: Arkan is buried
20 Jan 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Reporting on a violent death
19 Jan 00 |  Europe
Arrests over Arkan murder
17 Jan 00 |  Europe
Arkan murder mystery
15 Jan 00 |  Europe
Gangster's life of Serb warlord
18 Jan 00 |  Europe
My 'friend' Arkan
18 Jan 00 |  Europe
Arkan assailant 'in hospital'
16 Jan 00 |  Europe
Face-to-face with Arkan
16 Jan 00 |  Europe
Arkan murder 'prevents justice'
16 Jan 00 |  Europe
Who killed Arkan?

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