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Yugoslavia: Milosevic Resists Arrest, Army Ordered Out

Belgrade, 31 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic says that President Vojislav Kostunica has ordered army units to leave the compound where ex-President Slobodan Milosevic and his private guard are resisting arrest by Serbian police. Belgrade TV quotes Pavkovic today as saying that the order, his word, "exists." The report, carried by Reuters news service, did not say whether the army was preparing to obey.

Earlier, the army denied a complaint by Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic that army elements had protected Milosevic and obstructed Serbian police attempting to arrest him. An army statement said the mission was only to guard Milsevic's official residence, not its occupant.

Tanjug news agency quotes Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic as saying that Milosevic must be detained by the end of today. The attempt to arrest Milosevic began yesterday.

Serbian special police and heavily armed guards loyal to Milosevic exchanged fire in a confrontation over the arrest order early today at Milosevic's residence in Belgrade. Two police officers and a news photographer were reported wounded.

Police forces and Milosevic guards remain in a standoff at the villa.

Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said Milosevic had resisted being taken into custody, insisting he would not go to prison alive.

Mihajlovic vowed to bring Milosevic before a judge, either through Milosevic surrendering peacefully or being detained by force. He described Milosevic as being under "house arrest" until he is taken into custody.

The Serbian minister said police have filed charges against Milosevic of abuse of power and financial crimes under Yugoslav law. He said police were not trying to arrest him for extradition to The Hague to face war crimes charges.