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Milosevic's party demands burial with state honors

Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist party threatened yesterday to topple Serbia's minority government if the former Yugoslav president was not buried with state honors in Belgrade and if his widow was not allowed to attend.

Meanwhile, a Belgrade court dismissed a request by Milosevic family attorneys to waive an arrest warrant for the ex-president's widow to enable her to return from Russia for the funeral.

"We do not have the legal authority to do so, only a president can," Ivana Ranic, District Court spokeswoman, said.

Serbia's pro-Western President Boris Tadic said late on Sunday that it was "absolutely inappropriate" for Milosevic to be buried with honors because it was Serbs who had toppled him in massive street protests in October 2000.

Tadic also declined to pardon Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, who lives in self-imposed exile in Moscow and faces detention at home on charges of abuse of office during her husband's rule.

A state funeral would involve Serbia-Montenegro army guardsmen providing an honor escort at the ceremony, but the country's Supreme Defense Council announced yesterday it was banning the use of the military in Milosevic's funeral.

Counting on a huge turnout, the Socialists have said Milosevic should be buried at Belgrade cemetery's "Alley of Heroes" -- the graveyard reserved for prominent Serbs. The alternative, they said, would be his birthplace of Pozarevac, some 50km east of Belgrade.

Milosevic's body was found in his bed early on Saturday at the UN detention center at The Hague, Netherlands, where he had been on trial on war crimes and genocide charges stemming from the Balkan ethnic bloodletting of the 1990s.

An autopsy on Sunday showed the former Yugoslav president, long ailing from a heart condition and high blood pressure, had died of a massive heart attack, the UN war crimes tribunal said.

However, a Dutch toxicologist confirmed yesterday he found traces of a non-prescribed drug in a blood sample taken from Milosevic earlier this year.

Also in the Netherlands, Milosevic's legal adviser Zdenko Tomanovic said the ex-president's remains would be claimed by his son Marko either yesterday or today.
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