Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ex-Serbian President Surrenders to UN War Crimes Tribunal

Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic has surrendered to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague. His testimony is seen as valuable in the case against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr. Milutinovic is charged with war crimes during a 1999 crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Serbia's Kosovo province. He was indicted that year along with former Yugoslav President Milosevic for allegedly organizing the mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians from their homes.

Although experts say he did not have much power, Mr. Milutinovic was a close associate of Mr. Milosevic. His testimony could prove damaging to Mr. Milosevic, who faces genocide and other charges before the U.N. court.

Mr. Milutinovic was Serbia's president from 1997 until last month. He has denied he had a role in war crimes in Kosovo and says he did not have control over Serbian-led security forces in the province.

After Mr. Milosevic was driven from power in 2000, the pro-democracy forces that took over kept Mr. Milutinovic as a symbolic Serbian president and gave him immunity from the U.N. tribunal's prosecution until his presidency expired late last month.

Serbia has asked the U.N. tribunal to set Mr. Milutinovic free pending the beginning of his trial, because he agreed to surrender and because of his poor health. At age 60 he has had heart surgery twice in the past few years. The Serbian leader is expected to enter a plea in a few days.

Mr. Milutinovic is one of five Serbian officials who were indicted by The Hague court in 1999 in connection with the ethnic crackdown in Kosovo.