TOP Yugoslav Socialist Party officials visit Milosevic in his cell at The Hague

Tuesday, August 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Leaders from Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party visited the former Yugoslav president Tuesday in a U.N. detention unit where he is awaiting trial for alleged war crimes in Kosovo.

Milosevic, who was handed over to the tribunal in The Hague six weeks ago, has maintained telephone contact with officials from his party, which he still heads. He has not yet appointed legal representation and maintains he will defend himself in court.

In Belgrade, the independent Beta news agency reported that the party members spent four hours discussing party policies with Milosevic and the situation in the region.

Zivadin Jovanovic, acting party leader, told Beta that Milosevic urged him and the other delegates to ensure that ``the Socialists work on strengthening the party and carrying out its programs'' in his absence.

The Netherlands granted two-day visas to Jovanovic and deputy party head Zivorad Igic, as well as three other Socialist Party officials, for the meetings.

Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale said the party officials would visit Milosevic in two groups at the seaside detention unit in Scheveningen, just outside The Hague. The court and the Dutch government released no other details.

Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, and Belgrade lawyer Zdenko Tomanovic, who visited Milosevic last month, were planning another trip to the Netherlands, tribunal officials have said. Markovic saw her husband for three days in July after the European Union waived a travel ban against her.

Belgrade's daily Danas reported that Markovic is expected to depart Friday, accompanied by the couple's daughter-in-law and grandson. The visit is believed to coincide with Milosevic's birthday, Aug. 20.

Milosevic is scheduled to make a second court appearance on Aug. 30 when the court will address practical matters of his detention and his refusal to appoint legal representation.

The former president appeared alone at his initial hearing just over a month ago. He refused to recognize the court's jurisdiction, to appoint an attorney or to enter a plea. The court entered an innocent plea on his behalf.