Milosevic's wife finds life difficult without her 'cute and likeable hero'

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The Independent Online

The wife of Slobodan Milosevic has spoken of her "cute and likeable" husband, who appeared in the dock of the United Nations war crimes tribunal at The Hague on Tuesday. She commented: "What can I say? He is my hero."

In an interview in the Croatian magazine, Globus, Mira Markovic ­ whom many Serbs detest even more than her husband ­ said: "I cannot do anything on my own, without him. He has always been around in my life, and now I have to look after everything."

Globus said its article came from a series of interviews, the most recent on the day after Mr Milosevic was handed over to the tribunal in The Hague. Ms Markovic said her husband had stopped reading newspapers, adding: "That would be out of the question!"

Ms Markovic, who was Mr Milosevic's teenage sweetheart, criticised her husband on only one point: his resignation in October, after he (belatedly) recognised that he had been defeated at the polls. She said her husband should have asked for guarantees of safety. "Sloba did not ask for anything in return [for conceding]. And you know why? Because he was plain stupid. We told him he should have made a deal."

Her attitude to the tribunal was as scathing as that of Mr Milosevic, who refused to enter a plea at the "illegitimate" court. Ms Markovic, known in Serbia as the Red Witch, said the tribunal was "the Gestapo of our time". She described the detention unit at Scheveningen, near The Hague (where each prisoner has his own shower, lavatory, coffee machine, radio and television), as "a concentration camp for Serbs, with a few Croats and Muslims thrown in for good measure".

The Hague tribunal has asked the Dutch government to waive the EU ban on issuing a visa to Ms Markovic, who, with her family, is on a blacklist. Her lawyer said that she plans to visit her husband soon, but the Dutch government said it had not received a visa request. A spokesperson said, "As soon as she asks for a visa, we can consider her request."

The Scheveningen prison allows the use of a private "conjugal room" for as many hours as required. Tim McFadden, the former Irish army officer who runs the unit, has previously insisted that Mr Milosevic will be treated just like all other prisoners.

Mr Milosevic is not entirely without international support. Gennady Zyuganov, the Russian Communist Party leader, promised Mr Milosevic that he would "fight resolutely for the termination of the illegitimate tribunal and for your freedom".

* The Bosnian Serb prime minister said yesterday that his republic's adoption of a law on cooperation with The Hague tribunal would clear the way for the arrest of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said he expected the law to pass through parliament in the next three weeks before being implemented by the Bosnian Serb supreme court.

"If we accept the rules of this law, there will be a decision of the supreme court and I think that practically there is no alternative but to do the job," Ivanic told reporters. "That means to arrest the people."

Ivanic, in the Netherlands to visit the tribunal, said that Bosnian Serb forces could not arrest Karadzic and Mladic without the help of NATO-led peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. Ivanic said that he was not in contact with either Karadzic or Mladic and did not know their whereabouts.