BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 16:39 GMT
Serbian ex-president 'risks arrest'
Slobodan Milosevic and Milan Milutinovic
Milutinovic (right): The last Milosevic ally to leave office
The Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Goran Svilanovic, has said he expects the outgoing Serbian president to be arrested and extradited if he fails to surrender to the international war crimes tribunal.

Neither the government nor the court will work in the following days - he will probably go to The Hague after our Christmas

Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic
But he said Milan Milutinovic, whose term in office ended on Sunday, was unlikely to travel to The Hague until after the Orthodox Christmas on 7 January.

On Monday, a Belgrade court began the process that could end in extradition, when it sent a letter to the Serbian Government seeking approval for the handover.

As president Mr Milutinovic had diplomatic immunity, but officials have said he is now an "ordinary citizen".

He was indicted in 1999 for alleged war crimes, including murder, deportation and persecution, during the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo.

Holiday period

Mr Svilanovic said he expected the government to reply to the court "in the near future".

Natasa Micic
Natasa Micic: Youngest president
The court will then contact Mr Milutinovic, present him with the indictment, ask for a preliminary plea, and try to agree a date for him to appear before the tribunal.

Mr Milutinovic would be arrested if he refused to go voluntarily, Mr Svilanovic said.

He added that the New Year and Christmas holidays meant that "nothing special" was likely to happen in the next few days.

A Belgrade magazine published on Monday quoted Mr Milutinovic as denying reports that he would seek to dodge the tribunal.

"Frankly, I think I will meet my fate," he told the Nedeljni Telegraf.

Milosevic's inner circle

On Tuesday, the speaker of parliament, Natasa Micic, took over from Mr Milutinovic as acting president, after two attempts to elect a successor were foiled by low voter turnout.

Ethnic Albanian woman fleeing Kosovo
Milutinovic is accused of crimes against Albanians
She is the first woman to occupy the president's office, and, at the age of 37, the youngest.

Prosecutors at the international war crimes tribunal accuse Mr Milutinovic of being one of a small group of men who controlled the actions of the Yugoslav Army in Kosovo.

He says he knew little of what was going on and could do equally little to affect it, even though he was a member of Yugoslavia's Supreme Defence Council.

He is the last member of Mr Milosevic's inner circle to leave office, but lost all real power in October 2000, when Mr Milosevic was toppled from the Yugoslav presidency.

He was able to remain in office only because he agreed to co-operate with the new authorities.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Matthew Price
"Hague prosecutors are now pressing for his arrest"

Key stories

Srebrenica massacre

Background

Profiles

SPECIAL REPORT
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes