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Milosevic Was First Head of State to Face International War Crimes Court

Former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was found dead Saturday, was the first head of state to face an international war crimes court.

Milosevic rose to prominence in the former Yugoslavia by his outspoken support of Serbian nationalism.

As a Communist Party bureaucrat, he propelled himself into the national spotlight on April 24, 1987, when he told a crowd of Serbians clashing with police in Albanian-majority Kosovo that no one has the right to beat them.

Two years later, he became president of the Serbian republic. He later would serve as president of the rump state of Yugoslavia.

Milosevic oversaw the ensuing Balkans wars in the 1990s that killed at least 200,000 people. Under pressure from the United States and Europe, he signed the Dayton Peace Accord, ending the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995.

In 1999, NATO airstrikes forced Milosevic to withdraw Yugoslav and Serbian forces from the province of Kosovo, following mounting repression of ethnic Albanians and the breakdown of talks between separatists and the Serbs.

He was defeated in the Yugoslav presidential elections in 2000, and two years later, was transferred to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Milosevic insisted on defending himself at the trial, and made no apologies for his actions. His four-year trial had many interruptions due to his poor health.