Belgrade protesters resume marches after comrade's funeral
December 28, 1996
Web posted at: 1:00 p.m. EST 1800 GMT)
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Defying a police ban,
thousands of Serbian opposition supporters took to Belgrade
streets Saturday following the funeral of the first person to
die during anti-government demonstrations.
(1.4M/34 sec. QuickTime movie)
Police created a human chain of 100 officers across
Revolution Boulevard, which leads into the city center, to
try to block thousands of demonstrators advancing on them in
Demonstrators chanted "Slobo murderer" after a leader of
the Zajedno (Together) anti-government coalition accused riot
police loyal to President Slobodan Milosevic of causing the
Christmas Eve death of Predrag Starcevic.
Opposition leaders had called off daily demonstrations
Saturday and instead urged supporters to attend Starcevic's
funeral. The protests began after Milosevic's refusal to
accept his party's defeat by Zajedno in Belgrade and 14 of
Serbia's biggest towns in municipal elections on November 17.
At least 10,000 mourners attended the funeral at Belgrade's
Novo Groblje cemetery. The three opposition leaders --
, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic -- walked slowly
behind the black hearse, along with Starcevic's widow, 10
Orthodox priests bearing lighted candles and 50 mourners
carrying wreaths. At the front of the procession was a wooden
cross and the victim's portrait.
Mode of death unclear
Accounts of how Starcevic died vary. According to Draskovic's
SPO party, Starcevic was trampled to death in a stampede by
opposition activists fleeing riot police. According to
another report, when Starcevic was admitted to the hospital
he claimed he had been beaten by Milosevic supporters.
After the funeral, mourners resumed their street
demonstrations. Police banned street marches after the
rioting Tuesday when anti-government activists clashed with
supporters of Milosevic's Socialist party (SPS) and security
Milosevic asked to show restraint
International pressure was mounting on Milosevic to accept
the findings of an international delegation that determined
his Socialist party lost the local elections.
The European Union issued a statement saying Serbian
authorities must accept the findings that the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued Friday.
The statement suggested that economic sanctions were an
option if Milosevic's government refuses to comply with the
Serbia welcomed the review by the OSCE, an organization
representing 54 nations from North America, Europe and the
former Soviet Union, but has neither embraced nor rejected
Yugoslavian Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic called the
report "well-intentioned," "balanced" and "constructive,"
according to Serbia's official Tanjug news agency. But he
later told reporters the OSCE mission "got some things mixed
up" in saying the opposition won Belgrade and said that "all
problems should be solved with our system."
Carl Bildt, the Bosnia peace coordinator, also called on
Milosevic to recognize the OSCE findings and urged the
Serbian government to exercise restraint in dealing with the
"I am deeply disturbed by reports of violence in reaction to
these demonstrations in recent days," Bildt said in a
statement issued from London.
Several dozen people were injured Friday when riot police
clubbed protesters who demanded that the government accept
the OSCE findings.
"They beat mercilessly," said Rajko Zivkovic, 60. " They did
not ask anything, just clubbed the people."
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