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Relief in Serbia at arrest

Milosevic surrenders
Milosevic surrendered before dawn  

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- As Milosevic was finally locked away, most in Serbia breathed a sigh of relief.

His arrest was something that had been both anticipated and dreaded for quite some time.

People knew it was inevitable, but many were concerned about how the authorities would gain access into his home, reputed to be a fortress.

In recent months, there have been a number of polls showing a large majority of the public is in favour of forcing Milosevic to stand trial.

The fact that only a hundred or so diehards turned up to "defend" him demonstrated that quite convincingly.

More intriguingly, a recent poll conducted by the Argument Agency for Sociological and Political Science research in mid-February showed that a 60.3 percent majority is in favour of trying Milosevic for war crimes.

When asked where he should be tried, just over 50 percent thought Milosevic should be handed over to The Hague, while 31 percent were opposed.

Prior to the arrest, citizens interviewed on the street supported the idea that Milosevic be arrested, but like most in Serbia, they believed that the former president should first face charges in Yugoslavia, not in The Hague.

Now that the arrest has been made, many are concerned that the process be transparent. Jasna, an English teacher who asked that only her first name be used, said she hopes the trial will be televised for the public to see.

But first and foremost, she said, Milosevic should be accountable for his crimes at home, rather than abroad.

When the Brusin family gathered around the television to watch the coverage of the arrest, they were pleased to see Milosevic finally in the authorities' custody.

But 22-year-old Maya Brusin expressed disappointment with the charges, hoping that war crimes would be added to the dossier of crimes.

He should bear the responsibility, she and other family members said, for thousands of deaths and countless displaced persons.

"He deserves to be investigated," Sasa Brusin said, but regardless of the nature of the crimes Milosevic committed, he must face justice in a Serbian court.

Like many others, Zorica Brusin says the war crimes tribunal in The Hague is politicised and biased against Serbs. Many Serbs resent organs of the international community after the bombing of their country by NATO in 1999.



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