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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 22:48 GMT 23:48 UK
Top Serb suspect attempts suicide
Police officers stand on the steps of parliament following the shooting
Stojiljkovic shot himself on the steps of parliament
A former Serbian interior minister, wanted for alleged war crimes, has shot himself in the head. He has been taken to hospital in critical condition.

Vlajko Stojiljkovic
Vlajko Stojiljkovic: Indicted over alleged Kosovo crimes
Vlajko Stojiljkovic, who headed the police under former President Slobodan Milosevic, pulled out a gun and shot himself in front of the federal parliament building in Belgrade.

In a suicide note, Mr Stojiljkovic said he was acting in protest at parliament's adoption of a law allowing the transfer of war crimes suspects to The Hague, just hours earlier.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica described the suicide attempt as a "warning to the international community that constantly sets conditions, pressures us and dictates behaviour".

'No surrender'

Mr Stojiljkovic, who is still a member of the federal parliament for Mr Milosevic's SPS party, is one of four senior officials accused alongside Mr Milosevic for alleged war crimes during the Yugoslav military campaign in Kosovo.

He pledged never to surrender to the tribunal.

Aleksandar Vucic
Aleksandar Vucic read out the handwritten note
During his time as interior minister, from 1998 to 1999, police units are alleged to have committed atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

The tribunal has already begun hearing the case against Mr Milosevic, who faces 66 charges, some of which cover the Kosovo campaign.

Government blamed

"By this act I, as a deputy of the federal parliament, express my protest against all members of the puppet authorities," said the note, which was read out by Radical Party member of parliament, Aleksandar Vucic in front of the parliament.

Milosevic's Kosovo co-accused
Milan Milutinovic, Serbian President
Nikola Sainovic, former Yugoslav deputy prime minister
Vlajko Stojiljkovic, former Serbian Interior Minister
Dragoljub Ojdanic, former army chief of staff
He singled out for blame the Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djinjdic, and Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, as well as other members of the coalition which took over following the overthrow of the Milosevic regime.

"I accuse them of destroying Yugoslavia with the assistance of our greatest foreign enemy... for ruthless violation of the constitution and laws of this country, the policy of treason and capitulation, ruin and suffocating of our national dignity," the note read.

"Patriotic citizens of this country will know how to avenge me," Mr Stojiljkovic wrote.

'Quick handovers'

The law passed by parliament on Thursday allows for the handing over of about 20 suspects, including Mr Stojiljkovic.

It was approved in the lower house with 80 votes for and 39 against. The upper house approved it on Wednesday.

Before the law was passed, Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic said that the first extraditions could take place very soon, with all the suspects being transferred to The Hague by 1 May.

The Yugoslav Government has been under pressure from the United States to start extraditing suspects.

The US effectively froze $40m of aid after Yugoslav authorities failed to meet a 31 March deadline to act.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alix Kroeger
"He vowed never to surrender alive"
Daniel Bukumirovic, Yugoslav journalist
"Stolilijkovic is unlikely to survive"
See also:

11 Apr 02 | Europe
Belgrade approves war crimes law
01 Apr 02 | Europe
Bosnia genocide suspect arrested
19 Feb 02 | Europe
Kostunica attacks Milosevic trial
30 Jun 01 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
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