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Milosevic to hear charges

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The U.N. War Crimes Tribunal today ordered Slobodan Milosevic to make his first court appearance next Tuesday to hear charges for his part in a decade of Balkan wars that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

The former Yugoslav president, behind bars at The Hague, underwent an initial medical examination after being delivered by helicopter to the walled compound of Scheveningen prison in the early hours of the morning, then spent his first night in international custody.

He was shown by Dutch television being led across the prison yard by two guards in the only, fleeting footage of his familiar white hair and portly figure to be captured during the drama.

There were no reports of medical problems.

"On Tuesday he will make an initial appearance," tribunal spokesman Jim Landale said. He would be brought before a judge, the charges would be read to him and would be asked to enter a plea — "either guilty or not guilty."

Milosevic, 59, is the first former head of state to be tried for alleged war crimes while in office. His handover, widely praised by world leaders as a courageous move and a break with the past, boosted Belgrade's hopes of a $1.3 billion foreign aid-and-investment pledge. A money transfusion is urgently needed to prevent the economy expiring from wounds inflicted by Milosevic's defiance of the world and Yugoslavia's resulting pariah status.

"Nobody is happy when his or her former president is sent to The Hague tribunal, but it had to happen, and the sooner the better," Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus said.

He told Reuters at the Brussels aid conference that "donors will be encouraged to proceed more quickly with disbursements."

The European Commission said it would donate 530 million euros in loans and grants to Yugoslavia, and Labus said Washington had pledged $181.6 million for 2001.

Johannes Linn of the World Bank said the organization had pledged $150 million for this calendar year, adding this would form part of a $540 million package spread over a five-year period.

Chilling the West's political euphoria over Milosevic's handover, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said it could fan the flames of separatism even as the international community battles to avert a fourth Balkan war in Macedonia.

"This will without doubt play into the hands of separatists in Kosovo and Montenegro wanting to leave the (Yugoslav) federation," Ivanov said in a statement. "They will probably not pass up the chance to use the current situation it is not difficult to imagine what it could lead to," Ivanov said.

The warning contrasted sharply with Western satisfaction.

"The transfer of Milosevic to The Hague is an unequivocal message to those persons who brought such tragedy and brutality to the Balkans that they will be held accountable for their crimes," President Bush said in a statement echoed by a raft of Western leaders.

Milosevic was whisked to the detention center by helicopter at 1 a.m. local time after a British military flight brought him to the Netherlands from Belgrade via Bosnia.