BELGRADE, Yugoslavia – Slobodan Milosevic was served an arrest warrant Thursday and a list of war crimes charges against him, after the U.N. tribunal at The Hague threatened Belgrade with sanctions if the former leader was not issued the indictment.
The document was handed to Milosevic, who is being held in the Central Prison, so he can "get acquainted with its content," the Belgrade District Court said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.
The move ends a long-simmering dispute over whether the indictment had actually been handed over to Milosevic after it was presented to Yugoslav authorities last month by Hans Holthuis, chief registrar of the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale said the court had received confirmation that the warrant had been delivered to Milosevic personally.
"As far as we are concerned Milosevic now has to be handed over swiftly to the tribunal. It is also significant because it's an acknowledgment by the Yugoslav authorities of the tribunal's jurisdiction and now they have to live up to the legal obligation and transfer him."
The former president was detained April 1 on suspicion of corruption and other violations of Yugoslav laws during his 13-year rule. Yugoslav authorities have so far prevented his extradition to The Hague court, which has indicted him on war crimes charges in connection with atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
The statement from the Belgrade court was an apparent reaction to a protest issued just hours earlier by Holthuis, who again demanded that Milosevic, as well as four of his close associates also indicted on war crimes charges, be served the official documents "without any further delay."
The threat of U.N. sanctions was included in a letter from Holthius delivered to Belgrade authorities on Wednesday.
"The authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are required to act promptly and with all due diligence to ensure the proper and effective execution of this arrest warrant," the letter said. It demanded a written explanation for non-compliance.
If officials failed to report back to the U.N. court, "this shall be deemed to be a failure to execute the arrest warrant or transfer order" and the tribunal may notify the U.N. Security Council, it said.
Milosevic originally was to be detained in the Belgrade prison for one month. On Monday, his detention was extended by two more months to give authorities more time to build a case against him here.
Milosevic's lawyer, Toma Fila, confirmed Tuesday he had filed an official complaint with Serbia's Supreme Court about the detention. He promised Milosevic would not flee the country -- one of the reasons stated for continuing his detention.
Fila and Milosevic's supporters have claimed the former president's health has deteriorated while in prison and his life was in danger. Doctors who examined Milosevic have said he only has high blood pressure, which is not life threatening.