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Milosevic could be buried in Russia

March 12, 2006 19:58 IST

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was found dead in his prison cell at the UN detention centre near The Hague, could be buried in Russia where his brother and wife now reside, even as Moscow suspected foul play in his death and sought a thorough probe.

"I do not rule out that Milosevic would be buried in Russia," former chief of the international department of the Russian defence ministry under ex-president Boris Yeltsin, General Leonid Ivashov, said in an interview to Channel 1 TV.

Milosevic was found dead on Saturday in the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia near the Netherlands capital.

Milosevic's widow Mira Markovic has demanded that her husband's body be flown to Moscow immediately for autopsy, Radio Mayak reported.

Meanwhile, a number of prominent Russian lawmakers including chief of Nationalist Motherland Party Dmitry Rogozin and Deputy Speaker of State Duma (Lower House of Parliament) Lyubov Sliska have suspected foul play, noting that Milosevic is the second Serb leader to die in the custody of ICTY within a month and demanded a thorough investigation.

Russian lawmakers underscored that ICTY was created to justify the US-lead NATO aggression on the former Yugoslavia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced regret that the ICTY denied Milosevic the chance to receive medical treatment in Moscow.

"We know that following the deterioration of his condition Milosevic filed a request to receive medical treatment in Russia. Russian doctors were ready to offer him due assistance and the authorities guaranteed the fulfillment of all the related ICTY requirements.

"Unfortunately, despite our guarantees the tribunal refused to give Milosevic a chance to get treatment in Russia," a foreign ministry statement said.

In its report from The Hague, Russia's Channel 1 TV did not rule out that Milosevic could have been prescribed wrong medicines.

Quoting unnamed sources in The Hague it reported that on Friday Milosevic was examined by the team of independent doctors which stated that the prescribed treatment has not proved effective.

Milosevic had been on trial since February 2002, defending himself against 66 counts of crimes, including genocide, in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo - proceedings repeatedly interrupted by Milosevic's poor health and chronic heart condition.

The trial was recessed last week until Tuesday to await his next defence witness. Milosevic also was waiting for a court decision on his request to subpoena former US President Bill Clinton as a witness.

His death comes less than a week after the star witness in his trial, former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, was found dead in the same prison. His testimony in 2002 described a political and military command structure headed by Milosevic in Belgrade that operated behind the scenes.

Vinay Shukla in Moscow
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