Serb war crimes suspect shoots himself


Former Serbian interior minister Mr Vlajko Stojiljkovic, wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal, shot himself in the head outside the Yugoslav parliament today, a federal minister said.

A Serbian police source told reporters the former minister, in his mid-60s, was still showing some signs of life .

Mr Stojiljkovic, interior minister under ousted Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, shot himself hours after parliament approved a law clearing the way for the handover of war crimes suspects to the UN tribunal in The Hague.

He was one of three Milosevic-era senior officials widely seen as prime candidates for extradition after the law was passed.

A reporter who arrived later at the parliament building in downtown Belgrade said police had sealed off the stairs leading up to the main entrance with plastic tape.

Television crews and some ordinary people had started gathering by the building.

Mr Stojiljkovic, born in 1937, was interior minister from April 1997 until October 2000. His ministry was in charge of the police units widely accused of committing atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

He has kept a generally low profile since leaving office but remains a member of the federal parliament. He has defended himself as a man of honour.