(Reuters) - Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, 66, was acquitted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague on Thursday of the murders of hundreds of civilians and other war crimes by Serb forces in Kosovo in 1999.
Here are some details about the former Serbian president:
— Milutinovic was elected president of Serbia in 1997, succeeding Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic became president of the Yugoslav federation, continuing to dominate Belgrade politics, and Milutinovic had relatively little influence.
— He led the Yugoslav government’s negotiating group in the French town of Rambouillet at talks over Kosovo in 1999, which ended in an impasse and led to the 78-day NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the withdrawal of Serb forces.
— According to the indictment, Milutinovic had personal responsibility as president of Serbia and had at least formal control of Serb forces.
— He was accused of deportation, murder as a crime against humanity, murder as a violation of laws and customs of war and other inhumane acts during the war in Kosovo. This included the persecution of ethnic Albanians, the forcible deportation of about 800,000 civilians and the murders of hundreds.
— Born in December 1942, in Belgrade, Milutinovic received a degree in law from Belgrade University. His government posts included that of foreign minister of the former Yugoslavia.
— Milutinovic surrendered to the tribunal in January 2003, a month after his five-year term as Serbia president ended. He pleaded not guilty, arguing that he had had little real power as president of Serbia.
— In April 2005 the tribunal released him on bail pending trial, after 26 months in detention.
— Milutinovic underwent a triple bypass operation in April 2000 following a heart attack.
— Last September he returned temporarily to Serbia for medical treatment, subject to strict conditions including 24-hour electronic surveillance by Serbian authorities.
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit