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Saturday, 26 August, 2000, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Stambolic disappearance political says lawyer

A lawyer for the former Serbian president, Ivan Stambolic, says his disappearnce on Friday most likely has a political background.

Mr Stambolic failed to return home from his usual jogging run in a Belgrade park and eyewitnesses said a white van stopped close to where Mr Stambolic was taking a short rest, but there was no sign of him after it moved on.

The lawyer said he very much doubted if the disappearance was the consequence of an ordinary criminal act.

Correspondents say that as president of Serbia in the 1980s, Mr Stambolic was instrumental in Slobodan Milosevic's rise to power.

He was forced out of politics in 1988 after the emergence of political differences with Mr Milosevic.

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