Milan Milutinovic was one of Slobodan Milosevic’s right hand men – a loyal henchman to the President of Yugoslavia. The court will have to decide whether a man who it was joked “never interfered, even with his own work” can be held responsable for crimes allegedly committed during his term of office.
Milutinovic succeeded Milosevic as president of Serbia in 1997 – and came to the fore two years later at the Rambouillet negotiations over the future of Kosovo. The international community wanted Serbia to grant increased autonomy to Kosovo to head off conflict with Albanian rebels.
The smiling Milutinovic refused to play ball – and Belgrade’s hardline stance was seen as escalating the conflict that led to 78 days of Nato bombardment. Milutinovic would not be in court though if the issue was just that of refusing autonomy – Serbia is accused of killing hundreds of ethnic Albanians and thus encouraging the flight of some 800 000 as part of a deliberate strategy to alter the ethnic makeup of Kosovo and therefore ensure the province would not gain independence.
Here Milutinovic argues he had no responsibility – Serbia was not recognised as a fully-fledged state at the time – it was merely one element of the rump former Yugoslavia. Milutinovic has argued that as President of Serbian he only had direct responsibility for the Serbian police force and not the Yugoslav federal forces.
The court will argue that Milutinovic did have formal responsibility.