Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in his cell in The Hague, where he was on trial for war crimes, was buried Saturday in his hometown. Earlier, thousands of supporters attended a farewell rally in the capital Belgrade.
Slobodan Milosevic, considered by his victims the "butcher of the Balkans" and by his supporters a war hero, was buried beneath the same backyard Linden tree where he allegedly first kissed the girl who later became his wife, Mira Markovic.
She and her son, who live in Moscow, did not attend Milosevic's funeral in his hometown, Pozarevac, as they are wanted in Serbia on abuse of power charges.
Yet thousands of residents of the provincial town and other regions did attend the funeral, with many crying and carrying red roses, the symbol of Milosevic's Socialist Party. Milosevic's coffin, draped in a Serbian flag, arrived in Pozarevac from Belgrade, where tens of thousands of supporters paid their respects.
A brass band played funeral music, as supporters chanted, "Slobo, Slobo" and "This is Serbia."
Milosevic has been blamed for sparking and losing four Balkan wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, in his quest to unite Serbs across former Yugoslavia. An estimated 250,000 people died and millions were displaced.
Serbian President Boris Tadic, who refused to allow a state funeral, recalled that the man who oversaw the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia, was finally ousted in a popular revolt in 2000. He said the revolt began with much larger crowds in front of the same parliament building where on Saturday people mourned Milosevic's death.
"In all European countries, you have people with extreme views," said Mr. Tadic. "This is part of democracy. I am Serbian president and president of all Serbian citizens. But at the same time we are right now on the same square where we organized a democratic revolution on October the 5, 2000. Almost one million people demonstrated here. And this is the same city, same square, same country."
A year after his ouster, Milosevic was extradited to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague to face 66 counts of war crimes charges, including genocide. His trial, which lasted four years, was repeatedly postponed due to his poor health. Officials determined he died of a heart attack.
Mr. Tadic made clear that his country will continue cooperating with the U.N. court. "We are going to cooperate with the The Hague Tribunal," he added. "This is part of our responsibility. And this is extremely important regarding values in my country and the region."
Serbia has come under pressure to hand over war crimes suspects, including the most wanted, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his wartime military commander, Ratko Mladic, indicted by the court for genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
It was Europe's worst atrocity since World War II. Those who survived these and other atrocities say Milosevic's death just before an expected conviction for genocide denied them of the justice they had been waiting for.