BELGRADE, Yugoslavia – Police charged Slobodan Milosevic with inciting his bodyguards to shoot at officers trying to arrest him, a senior law enforcement official said Monday, a day after authorities seized a vast cache of weapons from the former president's mansion.
Milosevic was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of abuse of power and corruption, which carries a maximum five years in prison on conviction. If charged and convicted for inciting his body guards, he could be jailed for an additional 15 years.
More serious charges could be raised in the months ahead, possibly including involvement in political assassinations during his 13-year rule.
Police Lt. Gen. Sreten Lukic, who heads Serbia's Public Security, said that Milosevic's bodyguards wounded four policemen early Saturday, one seriously, when they charged his residence.
Three of the bodyguards are in custody, including Sinisa Vucinic, Lukic told reporters. Vucinic, a Milosevic loyalist, was in charge of the armed squad protecting the former president at his upscale villa.
Milosevic, in jail after surrendering before dawn Sunday to end a 26-hour standoff, maintained his innocence. He told an investigative judge that he was guilty of "not a single count from the charge sheet."
The judge ordered him held for at least 30 days while police continue investigations into allegations of criminal conspiracy and diverting millions of dollars of state funds.
After Milosevic was whisked away to Belgrade's Central Prison, police entered his compound in the tree-lined Dedinje district and said they found a major arsenal, including two armored personnel carriers, 30 automatic weapons, three heavy machine guns, an anti-tank grenade launcher, 23 pistols of varying calibers, 30 rifle grenades, two cases of hand grenades and other ammunition.
Milosevic had vowed not to be taken alive, and brandished a pistol during negotiations that led to his surrender. His daughter Mirjana fired pistol shots after her father agreed to give up, officials said.
On Monday, officials said Mirjana was being charged as well, though it was not immediately clear whether charges were actually filed
It was a bizarre end to the political history of a leader who presided over the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, triggering and losing four Balkan wars that left his country in political, economic and spiritual ruin.
Milosevic surrendered only after government negotiators assured him that he would not be handed over immediately to the U.N. war crimes tribunal that indicted him in 1999 for atrocities his forces allegedly committed against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Milosevic's crackdown in Kosovo triggered a 78-day NATO bombing campaign and the province's takeover by the United Nations and NATO.
Yugoslav authorities face intense international pressure to extradite Milosevic to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. The Bush administration is expected to declare Monday whether steps taken to cooperate with the court so far are enough to avoid a cutoff of $50 million in aid to Yugoslavia.
In Washington, President Bush said Milosevic's arrest was an important step toward ending "the tragic era of his brutal dictatorship." He said the United States considers the arrest an initial move toward a trial at the war crimes tribunal.
"We cannot and must not forget the chilling images of terrified women and children herded onto trains, emaciated prisoners interned behind barbed wire and mass graves unearthed by U.N. investigators," Bush said in a statement.
France, Germany, Italy and NATO also praised Milosevic's arrest and said it should lead to a trial at the war crimes court.
Tribunal spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said the court expects Milosevic in The Hague by the end of the year.
Many Yugoslavs, however, consider the tribunal a political instrument of U.S. foreign policy rather than an impartial court. The Yugoslav constitution bars the extradition of Yugoslavs to courts abroad.
The country's new government plans to change the law but is under pressure from its political allies in the smaller of the two Yugoslav republics, Montenegro, to hold off until after elections there April 22. Serbia is the dominant Yugoslav republic.
The pro-Yugoslavia political party in Montenegro faces a strong challenge from rivals who want to declare independence. The party used to support Milosevic, and fears its constituents might turn against it if the Belgrade government moves to extradite him.
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Montenegro's president separately welcomed Milosevic's arrest.
"The arrest of Slobodan Milosevic is an important step in the process of healing after the tragic events in the Balkans since 1991," Annan said in a statement released in Geneva. He also urged the Belgrade government to cooperate with the international war crimes tribunal.
"It is important that those responsible for the violations of international humanitarian law and the laws and customs of war that occurred during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia are brought to justice under due process," he said.
Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro's pro-Western president, pressed authorities in Belgrade to ensure the former president's trial was proper and open to the public.
The trial would have a strong political element, he said, and therefore, "I believe authorities in Serbia have a huge responsibility to ensure the trial be carried out in a correct manner, with transparency and public access."
Mindful of a possible backlash from Milosevic supporters in Yugoslavia, authorities in Belgrade said the former president would be treated fairly.
"He has his own room," Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic said. "He will be given food, allowed visitors, to have his own clothes and footwear, money, books, newspapers. He will not be subjected to any kind of physical harassment, no psychological pressure."
Milosevic's lawyer Toma Fila said his client was sedated and exhausted after his ordeal and would have to adjust to life behind bars.
"This is no five-star hotel," he told reporters, pointing to the huge gray communist-era building behind him. "This is a Balkan prison ... some cells are better, which means he has hot and cold water, but no TV or radio, or a gym or a swimming pool."
Fila said Milosevic surrendered because he "did not want any more Serb blood to be spilled."
Other charges Milosevic faces include allegations that as president of Serbia and later Yugoslavia, he conspired with four top aides to steal about $390 million from the country's treasury. The questioning was to resume Tuesday.