Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Yakima Herald Republic's Coverage
NEW: Milosevic's body arrives in Belgrade for funeral
BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - The body of former President Slobodan Milosevic returned to his homeland Wednesday as his supporters planned a funeral that raised fears of Serbian nationalists using the ceremony to try to regain power.
Zoran Andjelkovic, a deputy leader of the Socialist Party, told The Associated Press that Milosevic's remains will be laid to rest Saturday on the grounds of his family home in the gritty industrial town of Pozarevac, about 30 miles southeast of Belgrade.
Serbia's government refused to hold a state funeral for Milosevic, but his Socialist allies - determined to lay him to rest with as much private pomp as possible - organized Wednesday's arrival ceremony.
Milosevic's body arrived on a commercial JAT Airways plane from The Hague, where he died Saturday during his trial on charges of war crimes and genocide.
The coffin, wrapped in clear plastic and packing tape, was removed from the jet after the rest of the passengers' baggage on a small yellow vehicle with a conveyor belt.
As snow flurries fell, a group of Socialist Party officials marched solemnly to the plane, put a red, blue and white Serbian flag and a wreath with red roses on the coffin, and kissed it. A red ribbon on the wreath read: "Slobo the Hero."
They then carried it a short distance to a hearse, which drove slowly away from the plane. Other mourners then went up to the hearse, which had its rear hatch open, and they in turn also kissed the coffin. Serbian television carried the arrival live.
Several hundred die-hard supporters - some wiping away tears or flashing the three-finger Serbian victory salute - walked behind the hearse before it drove away to a the morgue in Belgrade's central St. Sava Hospital.
Several people tossed flowers at hearse as a few elderly women wailed loudly, a traditional way of mourning in Serbia.
"You came home, my son, Slobo!" cried one, Milica Kojic, 74. "They killed him in that dungeon."
Before the burial, the body will be put on public display in a large tent in front of the federal parliament building in the center of the capital, Andjelkovic said.
He said the Socialists decided to hold the viewing in the street after Belgrade city authorities denied permission by put the body inside the parliament building or at another unspecified location.
"Let them dare remove the tent," Andjelkovic said.
There are fears that nationalists could use the funeral to try win back power.
The Serbian Radical Party, an allied ultranationalist party, urged retired police and army officers to appear at the Milosevic funeral in ceremonial uniforms in a show of respect for the man who took them to four wars during his 13-year rule.
The Socialists, who were ousted from power along with Milosevic in 2000, threatened to topple the minority government if he were denied a funeral in Serbia and his widow was not allowed to mourn him at home.
They had demanded a funeral with state honors at a cemetery reserved for prominent Serbs, but authorities rejected this demand, reflecting the controversy about Milosevic's legacy.
Andjelkovic said Milosevic's body also will be displayed for public viewing in the Pozarevac City Hall before the burial. Milosevic's followers hold municipal power in Pozarevac, unlike in Belgrade, where the city authorities are dominated by the pro-Western Democratic Party, led by President Boris Tadic.
Milorad Vucelic, vice president of the Socialist Party, could not say if Milosevic's widow, Mirjana Markovic, or his son, Marko, would attend. Both have been living in Moscow in self-imposed exile.
But Sergei Baburin, a Russian nationalist lawmaker, said in Moscow that Markovic would not travel to Serbia for the funeral because Serbian security guarantees were "insufficient." There was no immediate comment from Markovic.
A Belgrade court on Tuesday suspended a warrant for her arrest but also ordered her passport to be seized upon arrival, which would prevent her from leaving the country immediately after the burial.
Mira Markovic won't be going to the funeral, I can't say I blame her, she'd never get back to Russia if she did.
Mira Won't Go to the Funeral
Serbian People Pay Their Respects
Same basic Information as above, different pictures
Sylvia Poggioli's coverage
And business as usual...he's NOT home! Get a CLUE!
Karadzic Home Raided Again