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Milosevic Marks Birthday In Prison

Slobodan Milosevic spent his 60th birthday in prison Monday, unwrapping presents with his wife and family at the U.N. detention center outside The Hague, court officials said.

Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, arrived in the Netherlands Saturday on a three-day visa accompanied by her daughter-in-law, Milica Gajic, grandson Marko and the family's lawyer, Dragoslav Ognjanovic.

Court spokesman Jim Landale said Monday's visit was supervised by tribunal officials like any normal visit. The family sat in the same room, unlike during Markovic's previous visit in July when the couple was separated by a glass wall. But the family was forbidden from bringing him a cake.

Greetings were sent by supporters in Belgrade and other capitals, but the Yugoslav media made no mention of the birthday.

"We have resisted much temptation and endured much hardship, but we succeeded in preserving the Socialist Party on the same principles as on the day it was founded," read a letter from party officials. He has remained leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, guiding it by telephone from the detention unit.

Russia's Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov also sent a telegram, condemning the tribunal as an illegal arm of the NATO alliance.

"Prison is not the best place to mark such a jubilee. But knowing the firmness of your character, I do not doubt that this new trial will not break you. You have all the right to greet this birthday with a head held high," the telegram said.

Milosevic was arrested last April by Serbian police on charges of corruption and abuse of power during his 13 years as Yugoslavia's president. Belgrade agreed to demands by the U.N. tribunal that he first face international war crimes charges and surrendered him to The Hague June 28.

Milosevic was indicted with four of his top aides for alleged atrocities against Kosovo Albanians in 1999. The tribunal entered pleas of innocent on all counts on his behalf when he refused to respond to the charges at his initial court appearance on July 3.

On Thursday, Dutch lawyers representing Milosevic will present their case to a district court in The Hague when they will contest the legality of the U.N. tribunal and their defendant's transfer to the Netherlands. He is due to appear before U.N. judges again Aug. 30.

In Belgrade, Milosevic's lawyer Momo Raicevic charged Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and 13 other Serbian government officials with abuse of power, alleging that by dispatching the former Yugoslav president to The Hague the government had acted not only illegally but also "aided in the kidnapping" of Milosevic.

Separately, Raicevic also charged the warden of the Belgrade Central Prison where Milosevic had been held since his arrest with "overstepping his authority in allowing Milosevic to be taken out of the prison without proper authorization."

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