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Serbian NATO ambassador jumps to death from parking lot at Brussels airport

Published time: December 05, 2012 09:43
Edited time: December 05, 2012 19:09
Branislav Milinkovic, Serbia's ambassador to NATO (Reuters/NATO/Handout)

Branislav Milinkovic, Serbia's ambassador to NATO (Reuters/NATO/Handout)

Serbia’s ambassador to NATO, Branislav Milinkovic has leapt to his death from a parking lot in a Brussels airport. Police have launched a probe to find out the motives behind the apparent suicide that came amid Serb talks with NATO officials.

The Serbian government has issued a statement saying that Milinkovic died instantly night after jumping from the 8- to 10-meter-high platform on Tuesday while waiting for Serbia-NATO talks to begin.

Emergency services were called to the scene of the incident, but could not save Ambassador Milinkovic.

Brussels prosecutor's office said it was "sure that it was a suicide," and will not be investigating the death further.

Milinkovic was at the Brussels airport to receive Serbian Deputy Foreign Minister Zoran Vujicm, who was due in the Belgian capital for NATO talks along with other officials. After the delegation arrived, they walked through the parking lot to their cars, and Milinkovic suddenly broke from the group, walked over to the barrier and jumped, an anonymous official said.

“I met with him [Milinkovic] yesterday afternoon, I didn’t notice anything strange, he seemed in a perfectly good mood,” an anonymous source told Italian publication La Stampa. “I knew him well, this doesn’t make any sense, it’s totally inexplicable.”

An unconfirmed report by local media quotes an unnamed source in the Serbian Foreign Ministry as saying, "It's possible the man was depressed and that nobody had noticed." In an official statement, the Ministry praised Milinkovic as a distinguished diplomat and jurist who would be "remembered as a skilled diplomat, an intellectual and a noble man."

Milinkovic, 52, is survived by his wife and six-year-old son. Before he was made Serbia’s ambassador to NATO, he worked as the ambassador for Serbia and Montenegro to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was “deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Serbian ambassador,” calling him a well-respected man, an alliance spokesperson said.

Serbia is not an official member of the military alliance, but maintains a diplomatic mission at the institution in Brussels. The Serbian delegation was in NATO headquarters for two days of talks regarding the disputed border zone between Serbia and Kosovo.