Display of Milosevic body sparks disputes

March 17, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BELGRADE, Serbia and Montenegro -- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remained a divisive figure in death yesterday as controversies erupted over the display of his body and his former political opponents hurried to organize a demonstration to counter the adulation expected at his funeral tomorrow.

They launched a text-message campaign urging their supporters to go to the center of Belgrade and let fly balloons at the same time as the rites.

The former president was found dead Saturday in the United Nations detention center at The Hague, where he was being tried on charges of genocide and war crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Milosevic was alleged to have orchestrated the Balkan wars of the 1990s that raged across Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Kosovo province, killing more than 225,000 people and devastating the region.

Milosevic's body went on display yesterday afternoon at the awkwardly named Museum Space 25th of May, one of several buildings that make up the Museum of Yugoslav History.

The building perches between the house where Milosevic was arrested Oct. 5, 2000, and the grave of Josip Broz, known as Tito, who led Yugoslavia for 35 years after World War II.

The director of the museum, Ljiljana Cetinic, expressed anger that she had not been consulted about placing the former president's coffin there and accused the government of perverting the use of a cultural institution.

Directors of museums and cultural institutions in Belgrade signed a petition joining her protest.

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