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Dozens of supporters of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic paid their respects at his grave Friday, 10 years after he died in The Hague where he was on trial for war crimes.

Known as the "Butcher of the Balkans", Milosevic fuelled ethnic conflict and mass murder in the former Yugoslavia during his 13 years of iron rule, defying international sanctions and NATO bombs.

He was found dead in his cell in 2006 at the age of 64, unmoved until the end by charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Despite being ousted as president by a popular uprising in 2000, Milosevic remains a hero to some Serbians, including those who braved heavy rain on Friday to visit his grave in his family garden in the eastern city of Pozarevac.

"Without him, the Serbs have nothing. He at least saved what we have today," said 86-year-old Milan Stojanovic, struggling to walk with a cane, as rain ran down his face.

Some visitors stroked the white bust of Milosevic atop his grave, while others crossed themselves and stayed for a moment of silence in front of the tomb, which was laden with flowers.

"At least he was fighting for Serbia. Those in power after him have reduced us to slavery," said Ana Petrovic, 58, who said she visits the grave every year.

Milosevic was the first former head of state to appear before an international criminal court and faced life in jail if convicted.

But he portrayed himself as a besieged statesman who struggled to keep the crumbling Yugoslav federation intact against separatists and "terrorists".

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