Milosevic Surrenders to Police at Eleventh Hour
|Charges Against Milosevic
PARIS, April 1 (AFP) - Slobodan Milosevic, arrested in Belgrade early Sunday, is sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to answer charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
BELGRADE, April 1 (AFP) - The armed stand-off between Slobodan Milosevic and security forces ended peacefully early Sunday when the former Yugoslav president gave himself up to the police, officials said.
"We confirm that Slobodan Milosevic has given himself up to justice," a government spokesman told AFP by phone shortly before 5:00 am (0300 GMT).
Radio reports said the ex-leader, charged by Belgrade prosecutors with abuse of power and stealing public funds, was in the capital's central prison.
The sudden surrender came after a tense night of negotiations between an increasingly erratic Milosevic and his entourage, which police said included up to 50 heavily armed loyalists, and a government team.
"He was in a pretty bad mental state," Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac told BBC television, quoting government negotiators.
"He was unbalanced, threatening and showing his gun, saying he will kill himself and his family."
His wife Mira Markovic and his daughters were at his side during the tense stand-off, Korac said.
According to one report, the government mission included a personal visit to the besieged mansion by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica himself.
True to the brinkmanship which has marked his political career, Milosevic left his surrender to the very last minute, after his supporters had thwarted one special police bid to grab him early Saturday and as police geared up for a new assault.
A member of his entourage told a Belgrade radio station an hour before the surrender that talks had broken down and Milosevic appeared set on a pledge not to be taken alive.
But as police deployed in greater force around the outer walls of his compound, officials of his Socialist Party reported an 11th hour breakthrough in the talks.
Fears had been mounting that a bloody battle was inevitable, as the man who led the country through 13 years of war, international isolation and disintegration refused to budge.
Police had earlier cleared the area in the well-heeled Belgrade suburb of scores of Milosevic supporters who had tried to form a human shield to protect their hero from arrest.
"We had made a decision we would storm his house within a few hours," if Milosevic did not give himself up, Korac told the BBC.
He said Milosevic appeared to have been swayed by members of his own Socialist Party who, Korac said, were "aware of the dangers for itself".
The scene had indeed appeared set for police to storm the building.
Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic earlier said last-ditch negotiations were underway but personally held out little hope for a peaceful solution.
"Considering the moves Milosevic made in the past I am afraid that he is not ready to accept a reasonable solution," he said.
But Branislav Ivkovic, head of the parliamentary group of Milosevic's Socialist Party (SPS), later confirmed his boss had gone quietly.
"I want to say that he was not detained, he decided of his own accord to join the judicial procedures against him," Ivkovic told Belgrade radio B92.
"I think this is yet more proof that he has an exceptional character and is honest, a man who respects the people around him and who know how to take the right decision in any situation. It was his decision, it all came down to him," said Ivkovic.
Shortly before a five-vehicle cavalcade sped away from the Milosevic compound, apparently with the ex-leader aboard, five shots were heard from inside the complex wall. No immediate explanation was given as to the origin of the shots.
Milosevic was indicted in May 1999 by a UN tribunal for war crimes allegedly committed in Kosovo, but has been arrested on the lesser charges of corruption and abuse of power.
Topics: Belgrade, Crime And Justice, Crimes Against Humanity, Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic