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Serbo Journal

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Milosevic's body returned to Belgrade

The body of former president Slobodan Milosevic arrived in Belgrade on 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 body will be laid to rest Saturday on the grounds of his family home in the gritty industrial town of Pozarevac, about 50 kilometres 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 pomp as possible organized Wednesday's arrival ceremony.

Milosevic's body arrived on a commercial JAT Airways plane from The Hague, where he died last weekend at a UN detention centre, where he was being held while on trial for alleged war crimes.

The coffin, wrapped in 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 some flowers on the coffin, and kissed it.

They then carried it a short distance to a hearse, which drove slowly away from the plane. Other mourners then walked up to the hearse, which had its rear hatch open, and they in turn 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 solemnly behind it.

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