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Milosevic’s daughter calls funeral ‘scandalous’

Sympathizers pay respects Saturday at the grave of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in his hometown of Pozarevac.
Sympathizers pay respects Saturday at the grave of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in his hometown of Pozarevac.Srdjan Ilic / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Slobodan Milosevic’s daughter on Sunday called her father’s funeral in Serbia “scandalous” and blasted the rest of the family for arranging it.

Marija Milosevic, the late Yugoslav president’s estranged daughter, who lives in Montenegro, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that she has severed all ties with her mother and brother, who live in exile in Moscow.

“There is no reason any more for me to have any contact with my family,” Marija Milosevic, 40, said. “Nowhere on our planet are people being buried in their backyards.”

Milosevic was laid to rest Saturday in a makeshift grave dug in the backyard of the family estate in Pozarevac, eastern Serbia. Marija said she would demand exhumation of Milosevic’s body so he can be buried in Montenegro, were both of his parents were born.

Milosevic died of a heart attack last week while at the detention of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Son and mother stay away
Marija, son Marko and widow Mirjana Markovic did not attended the funeral ceremonies Saturday in Belgrade and Pozarevac, which drew tens of thousands of mourners and nationalist supporters, but no ruling government officials.

Milosevic’s widow and son, who organized the funeral from their self-imposed exile, did not travel to Serbia to avoid arrest on criminal charges. Instead, they sent letters that were read by the grave.

Milosevic’s wife said in her funeral note that “you have come back to our home to rest in the place you loved the most.” Markovic, who had ordered that a double grave be dug in the yard so that she can be buried next to her husband when she dies, added: “Wait for me now.”

** FILE ** Former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, left, with his daughter Marija, right attend a funeral in Belgrade in this April 1997 file photo. Milosevic's daughter on Sunday called her father's funeral in Serbia "scandalous" and blasted the rest of the family for arranging it. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)Darko Vojinovic / AP

The son, Marko, also said in his letter that a burial in Pozarevac was Milosevic’s “last wish.”

But, Marija, who moved to Montenegro after Milosevic was arrested in Belgrade in 2001, has insisted on a burial in Montenegro, in the remote village of Lijeva Rijeka, where Milosevic’s own father was laid to rest in the 1970s after committing suicide.

She said she would demand her father’s exhumation and a reburial in Montenegro.

Serbia is a “treacherous country which sold him out,” Marija Milosevic said, referring to Milosevic’s 2001 arrest and extradition to The Hague court by the pro-Western authorities which succeeded him.

“My father was killed in The Hague. He was a healthy man, from a healthy family, who could have lived for another 20 years,” she said.

Facing charges
Marija Milosevic also faces charges in Serbia for firing her gun at a government negotiator during the 2001 arrest in Belgrade. She has failed to appear for any of the scheduled court hearings, prompting the court to issue an arrest warrant.

Marija is known to have been at odds with her mother and brother for years.

In the AP interview, she also blasted the former president’s Socialist Party associates, who stood guard by his coffin in Belgrade and attended the actual burial in Pozarevac.

“My stomach turned upside down as I watched his enemies stand by his coffin, the very people who ran away from him like mice on the day he was arrested,” Marija Milosevic said.

About 80,000 people attended the farewell ceremony in Belgrade, while some 20,000 mourned the former leader in Pozarevac, in a major outburst of nationalist sentiment.

“I did not ask them to come, they are not our family,” Marija said. “My father was everything to me, my greatest love.”