The body of Slobodan Milosevic, the accused war criminal and former leader of Serbia, was transferred Tuesday night to a morgue at Amsterdam airport and will reportedly be flown Wednesday to Belgrade for burial.
A top official of Milosevic's Socialist Party said Tuesday evening that his funeral will take place in Belgrade later this week. Milorad Vucelic, vice president of the party, said the decision was made after discussions with Milosevic's family.
In the Hague Milosevic's lawyer said the body would be flown to Belgrade Wednesday. There had been considerable speculation that the funeral would take place in Moscow, where Milosevic's wife and son have been living.
The Serbian government had undertaken lengthy conversations with the Milosevic family about the circumstances under which it would allow the former leader to be buried in Belgrade. It had agreed to suspend an arrest warrant for his widow Mira Markovic, who with her family has been living in exile in Russia. However, the Belgrade authorities were insisting that she surrender her passport upon her return to Serbia. The family had asked that Milosevic be buried with state honors, something the government refused to do.
Milosevic ruled Serbia for 12 years until being overthrown in a popular uprising in 2000. A year later a reformist government sent him to the Hague where he has been on trial for genocide and other atrocities for his role in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo. His wife, often considered the power behind Milosevic, fled Serbia in 2002. Milosevic's son, Marko, came from Moscow to the Netherlands to claim his father's body. The younger Milosevic told reporters his father had been murdered and did not die of natural causes. Carla Del Ponte, the chief war crimes prosecutor, told a French newspaper Tuesday that Milosevic had deliberately aggravated his own health by secretly taking his own medicines. Milosevic was found dead of an apparent heart attack in his cell Saturday morning.
Belgrade media analyst Vladan Marjanovic says Milosevic's death has not created much of a stir in Serbia.
"I think a majority of the general public is pretty numb," said Vladan Marjanovic. "They simply don't care about it any more. Of course, there are a certain number of hardliners who still consider him to be a great Serbian hero, but it is obviously a minority of people."
Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica Tuesday told the Beta news agency that the suspension of the arrest order for Mira Markovic would enable the funeral to take place in Belgrade. He said a funeral is a civilized act that should be respected.