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Milosevic’s Wife: I’m Innocent

November 19, 2001

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ The wife of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic denied Monday in court that she forced a former official to abuse power, her lawyer said.

Attorney Dragoslav Ognjanovic told reporters outside a Belgrade district court that his client, Mirjana Markovic, testified for an hour before an investigative judge and denied helping her grandson’s nanny illegally obtain an apartment.

Markovic, who earlier this month failed to answer a summons to appear at the same court allegedly because she was ill with the flu, did not speak to reporters after Monday’s hearing and left the courthouse through a back door.

``Markovic has denied the allegations against her,″ Ognjanovic said, adding that the former first lady ``saw no reason to invoke her immunity as a parliament deputy since she is entirely innocent.″

Markovic is suspected of compelling a former official in Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic, to use her influence in having a government-owned apartment allocated to the nanny.

The official, Zivka Cica Knezevic, served as an assistant to former Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic _ another Milosevic ally _ and has been detained in Belgrade pending investigations on related charges.

``My client had nothing to do with this criminal act and in no way abetted abuse of power on anyone’s part,″ Ognjanovic said.

If the case comes to trial and Markovic is officially charged and convicted of abetting abuse of power, she could face up to five years in prison. Before any trial, Markovic, a deputy of her neo-communist Yugoslav Left party, would have to be stripped of her parliamentary immunity.

Her husband, Milosevic, is awaiting trial before the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, on charges of atrocities committed in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia.

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