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Milosevic Arrest Opens Tap

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As the United States rewarded Yugoslavia on Monday with a pledge of financial aid for the arrest of its former president Slobodan Milosevic, criminal prosecutions both within his home country and in The Hague gained steam with new charges and possible new indictments.

Secretary of State Colin Powell certified on Monday that Yugoslavia has been cooperating with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands, thus ensuring no interruption in American aid to the Belgrade government.

Criminal investigations against Slobodan Milosevic within his home country widened Monday, with police charging the former Yugoslav president with inciting his guards to shoot at officers sent to arrest him for alleged corruption and abuse of power, reports CBS News Correspondent Allen Pizzey.

From his Belgrade cell, Milosevic remained defiant, filing an appeal in which he demanded to be released and called his arrest "politically staged."

Guards at Belgrade Central Prison brought Milosevic's once-powerful wife firmly down to earth by making her walk up to the prison to visit her husband. Mirjana Markovic's armored limousine drove into the compound and up to the building and the doors opened as those inside prepared to get out, but a guard sent it back to the parking lot.

What Milosevic Faces
Yugoslav Charges
  • Corruption and abuse of power, including a specific allegation that as president of Serbia and later Yugoslavia, Milosevic conspired with four top aides to steal about $390 million in Yugoslav dinars and German marks from the country's treasury.
  • Inciting violence, a charge stemming from police allegations that Milosevic ordered his armed bodyguards to fire on riot police during a raid on his villa early Saturday.

    War Crimes Charges

  • Crimes against humanity, a charge stemming from Milosevic's brutal 1999 crackdown on ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo. The U.N. tribunal has indicted Milosevic and four senior associates on three counts, each of which brings a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
  • Violation of the laws and customs of war, an additional charge also tied to atrocities that Milosevic allegedly ordered in Kosovo.

  • Markovic, once a figure few would dare to cross, put a brave facon the humiliation getting out of the car and managing a smile at one of her male escorts as they made their way on foot to the building, carrying supplies for her husband in a suitcase, a plastic crate and a bag from an expensive boutique.

    And there were signs of more trouble ahead: Police blamed a key Milosevic loyalist for plotting an "armed rebellion" against the pro-democracy government that drove Milosevic from power last October.

    Lt. Gen. Sreten Lukic, who heads Serbia's Public Security, said Sinisa Vucinic - head of Milosevic's personal security in his Belgrade villa - was under investigation for "much more serious crimes consisting of elements pertaining to an armed rebellion and organizing of armed groups for much wider actions."

    Milosevic was arrested early Sunday following a 26-hour standoff with police. Authorities added inciting violence to the growing list of charges pending against the former president after his guards sprayed police with automatic gunfire to repel an attempted raid on his villa Saturday, wounding four officers.

    If tried and convicted on all the Yugoslav charges pending against him, Milosevic would face five to 15 years in prison. Three of his bodyguards are also in police custody.

    The U.N. war crimes tribunal has indicted Milosevic for crimes against humanity stemming from his crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999. The U.S. and other Western governments have pressured Belgrade to extradite him.

    War crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte said she had prepared another indictment against Milosevic, this time relating to Bosnia.

    "I really think that Milosevic will be in The Hague by the end of the year," she said.

    At stake was $50 million in U.S. aid - money that Washington had withheld until it determined that Yugoslavia was serious about cooperating with the tribunal. But on Monday, the State Department said the cash would be released now that Milosevic was behind bars, although Powell said future assistance hinged on cooperation with the U.N. court.

    Yugoslav officials insist they first must try Milosevic in their own courts before considering any extradition demands. "We will not be blackmailed," Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic told Germany's ZDF television Monday. Serbia is Yugoslavia's main republic.

    But Zoran Zivic, the Yugoslav federal prime minister, said Monday in Greece that Yugoslavia intends to push through a bill that would abolish a law forbidding citizens to be extradited to foreign courts.

    Since his ouster, Milosevic has maintained that he was removed in an "illegal coup." Yugoslav justice officials say they believe he was planning a return to power - by force if necessary.

    Police on Monday displayed a huge arsenal they said they found in Milosevic's villa in a tony Belgrade neighborhood - a cache that included 27 automatic rifles, 23 anti-tank mines, 33 hand grenades, and five crates of ammunition.


    AP
    The Yugoslav-made handgun that
    Milosevic apparently always carried.
    SIZE>
    Also on display was Milosevic's personal pistol, which he reportedly waved around during negotiations that led to his surrender. The gun is engraved with a portrait of Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic, the commander of Yugoslav troops in Kosovo during the NATO air strikes in 1999.

    Milosevic, who was ordered detained for 30 days, has pleaded innocent. His appeal for release called his arrest a political maneuver "dictated from the capitals of the forces which carried out the aggression against our country."

    In a signed three-page document distributed by his lawyer, Toma Fila, Milosevic said Yugoslavia's new government jailed him "to besmirch my years long work, especially because I, in the interest of the state and the people, opposed the world powers."

    Answering accusations that he illegally channeled millions of dollars to secret funds, Milosevic said the money went to the Bosnian and Croatian Serb armies, which unsuccessfully fought to prevent Bosnia and Croatia from leaving Yugoslavia.

    It was the first time Milosevic had publicly admitted financing the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. He also said the cash went to Serbian security troops and "anti-terrorist" forces, and that the funds were intended to circumvent the international embargo against Yugoslavia.

    A defiant Milosevic said he didn't want to be "treated like a criminal for doing the best I can for my country."

    Fila conceded, however, that there was a possibility that Milosevic would be charged with "armed rebellion."

    Milosevic reportedly had vowed not to be taken alive, and threatened to kill himself and his family. His 32-year-old daughter, Marija, squeezed off several pistol shots after her father agreed to give up, officials said.

    On Monday, police said they asked a prosecutor to file charges against her for firing the shots. Traces of gun powder were found on both her hands, police said.

    On the streets of Belgrade there's very little reaction over Milosevic's arrest, reports CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier. His apparent last-ditch histrionics only served to further reduce him to a curious sideshow here, Correspondent Dozier reports.

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