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Sunday, 14 April, 2002, 01:47 GMT 02:47 UK
Top Serb suspect dies
Stojiljkovic supporters outside parliament
Stojiljkovic accused the parliament of betrayal
One of the most wanted Serbian war crimes suspects - former Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic - has died of self-inflicted wounds in Belgrade.

I accuse them of destroying Yugoslavia with the assistance of our greatest foreign enemy

Suicide note
Stojiljkovic - who headed the police under former President Slobodan Milosevic - shot himself in front of the federal parliament on Thursday just hours after its members voted to allow the extradition of suspects to The Hague tribunal.

His doctors said they were unable to save him.

Branko Djuric, head of neurology at Belgrade Emergency Centre, said: "Despite intense reanimation measures, death occurred on 13 April 2002 at 2130 [1930 GMT]."

Vlajko Stojiljkovic
Vlajko Stojiljkovic headed Slobodan Milosevic's police force
Mr Djuric said doctors had succeeded in restarting Stojiljkovic's heart but could not get him to breathe without a life support machine.

The bullet caused massive and irreparable damage to his skull and brain, and he had been in a coma.

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

Stojiljkovic was wanted by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague to face charges of being responsible for atrocities by police in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999.

'Puppet authorities'

Still a member of the federal parliament, he left an angry suicide note, accusing the parliament of betrayal.

Woman holds up pictures of Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic
Other suspects are not expected to go quietly

It was read out by the Radical Party legislator Aleksandar Vucic in front of the parliament.

"By this act I, as a deputy of the federal parliament, express my protest against all members of the puppet authorities," said the note.

Stojiljkovic accused Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djinjdic and Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica among others of destroying Yugoslavia with the assistance of "our greatest foreign enemy".

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

Mr Milosevic's Socialist Party said Stojiljkovic was the "first victim" of the law legalising "the hunt for Serb patriots and heroes of the war against Nato aggressors and Albanian terrorists" in Kosovo.

Other wanted war crimes suspects, including Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, have also said they would rather die than be handed over to the tribunal.

The BBC's Alix Kroeger in Belgrade says Stojiljkovic's suicide has come as a shock, but it has not been enough to bring many people out onto the streets.

The BBC's Alix Kroeger
"He vowed never to surrender alive"
See also:

13 Apr 02 | Europe
Hague suspects go to ground
12 Apr 02 | Media reports
Former Serbian minister's suicide note
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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