Mirjana struggles to accept the end

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The Independent Online

Finally, they have been parted. A European Union ban forbidding the Milosevic family to travel means the former president will no longer see his beloved wife Mirjana, his best friend and closest political ally since they met as teenagers in Pozeravac in central Serbia.

Reporters say she had difficulty believing her husband had been taken away. On Thursday evening she was spotted circling the Central Prison in Belgrade in her BMW, unwilling to accept the news that her husband was on his way to The Hague.

A reporter who prised open her car door was rewarded with a stream of abuse. It was only later that night that she accepted the truth – that the Serbian government had handed her husband over to the war crimes tribunal.

Few Serbs will feel sorry for Mirjana Markovic, whatever they feel about her husband's extradition. Ms Markovic (she always insisted that, as a feminist, she should never be called Mrs Milosevic) was disliked as a paranoid and unscrupulous schemer who may well have had a hand in some of her husband's deeds.

She ran her own political party, the Yugoslav Political Left, known as YUL, allied to her husband's Serbian Socialist Party, which claimed to be the heir of the old defunct Communist party.

She inspired ridicule, because of her squeaky voice and strange dress sense, but there was an underlay of fear. Her enemies tended to disappear unaccountably.

The columns she wrote for a variety of Serbian publications, where she aired her views on socialism and the international conspiracy against Serbia, were required reading for political commentators as a guide to her husband's thoughts. They believe she greatly increased her hold over him during his last troubled years in office.

Like her husband, she cut a shrunken, bewildered figure after his overthrow in October. last year. The next blow followed in April when he was arrested and sent to prison in Belgrade. At least there she could visit him.

She may not be parted from her husband for long. The European Union could make an exception to the travel ban if the Hague tribunal requests it.

"If the tribunal rules that they want her to visit then we'd comply," one EU diplomat said, predicting the eventual reunification of one of Europe's most famous modern couples.

"They seem to be a very close couple," he added.