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Serbo Journal

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Serb hardliners call Milosevic a betrayed hero

(Reuters) - Hardline Serbian nationalist parties on Saturday described Slobodan Milosevic as a hero betrayed by sell-outs among his own people and said he should be buried in the national heroes' cemetery.

"The Hague tribunal killed Slobodan Milosevic by not letting him go to be treated in Moscow while knowing what a serious condition he was in," said Radical Party official Aleksandar Vucic.

"They demonstrated that it was considerably easier to find him dead than to have him alive and defending himself to the end of the trial and to continue to destroy their senseless indictment," he told Reuters Television in an interview.

Vucic, whose opposition party is the strongest in Serbia with more than 35 percent support in polls, said the tribunal and its "domestic minions here in Serbia who kidnapped (Milosevic) and handed him over to The Hague are responsible for his death".

He predicted widespread international condemnation of the tribunal following the discovery of the body of the former Yugoslav president in his cell on Saturday.

"I think the political consequences will be that we who fight against those who want to destroy Serbia will have even more arguments and will ask them if such a witch hunt was necessary against his family..." he said.

All Radical supporters should attend the funeral of Milosevic "to pay tribute to the former president of Serbia and Yugoslavia and to show that, if they killed Milosevic, they were unable to kill Serbia and will never succeed in this", he said.

Vucic said he did not believe Milosevic's death would lead to unrest in the country but added: "I think it will reflect on political ratings and the next elections for sure."

Serbia is governed by a fragile minority coalition of centrist, liberal and conservative parties which relies informally on Milosevic's rump Socialist Party to pass votes in parliament.

The other main opposition group, the Democratic Party of President Boris Tadic, is solidly pro-Western and a sworn enemy of the Radicals, who have so far fallen well short of attracting potential coalition partners.

Ivica Dacic, executive head of Milosevic's Socialist Party, said: "We believe that Slobodan Milosevic should be buried in the Alley of Heroes in Belgrade and his funeral will be a show of support for his policies."

There has been no word on when Milosevic's body, which must be examined by a pathologist, might be returned to Serbia for burial and no reliable information on when and where the funeral will take place.

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