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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 11:15 GMT
Profile: Milan Milutinovic
Kosovo refugees
Thousands were forced to flee Kosovo
Milan Milutinovic, president of Serbia from 1997 to 2002, is indicted together with Slobodan Milosevic on charges of crimes against humanity and violation of the laws of war allegedly committed during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.

He says he was little more than a figurehead with limited power to influence events.

But prosecutors point out that he was a member of the Yugoslav defence council which took decisions regarding the use of the army and the police in the province.

[Milutinovic is] a lackey, a butler, a servant of Milosevic, who made a small career as a party apparatchik

Aleksa Djilas, Serbian commentator

In the Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, hundreds were killed and more than 800,000 forced to flee their homes.

The case against Mr Milutinovic is likely to turn on how much he knew, and the extent to which he bears formal responsibility for the actions of Serb security forces.

Serbian journalist and commentator Aleksa Djilas told the BBC: "As president of Serbia, his main task was literally not to do his job.

"[He was] not even an instrument of Milosevic, but a figure who just sat in the president's office.

"Milosevic at that time was president of Yugoslavia - which of course consists just of Serbia and Montenegro - and was in charge of the military and the police.

"Milutinovic is not a man who arouses strong emotions in Serbia. He's a lackey, a butler, a servant of Milosevic, who made a small career as a party apparatchik."

While he was Serbian president, Mr Milutinovic enjoyed diplomatic immunity but that ended with his term of office at the close of 2002.

Dayton role

Throughout his political career, Mr Milutinovic was a close ally of Mr Milosevic - he was the last member of the Milosevic inner circle to leave power.

Born in December 1942, the Serbian politician was educated in Belgrade where he received a law degree.

Former Serb president Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic once held most of the power in Serbia
In his capacity as a Foreign Affairs Minister of Yugoslavia, Mr Milutinovic took part in 1995 negotiations for a ceasefire in Bosnia as well as in the Dayton talks which finally brought peace to the country.

In December 1997 Mr Milutinovic was elected president of Serbia, standing as a candidate of the Socialist Party.

It was thanks to this position that he became a member of the Yugoslav defence council.

The Hague Tribunal will need to prove that Mr Milutinovic knew or had reason to know of the war crimes committed by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo, that he failed to take measures to prevent such crimes or that he failed to punish the perpetrators.

Aleksa Djilas told the BBC: "I'm as certain as anyone may be that he never issued any orders.

"Nevertheless he might have been present as a witness when such decisions were made, so I suppose he could be a witness against Milosevic."


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