Serbian NATO envoy jumps to death at Brussels airport

Branislav Milinkovic, Serbian ambassador to NATO, jumped 30 feet to his death in Brussels in front of his assistant. Officials there believe it to be a suicide.

BRUSSELS — Serbia's ambassador to NATO jumped to his death from a multi-story parking structure at Brussels airport, officials said Wednesday, and Serbia said it was investigating the incident.

The death of Branislav Milinkovic, 52, occurred while he was attending a conference of NATO foreign ministers, but officials did not make any connection between the meeting and his apparent suicide.

"We are shocked and we are investigating all circumstances" surrounding the ambassador's death, said a Serbian Foreign Ministry official who asked not to be named.

"We have no clues about what could prompt Milinkovic to do that. He was a good man."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was "deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Serbian ambassador," who was highly respected, said an alliance spokeswoman.

But the Brussels prosecutor's office said: "We can be sure that it was a suicide, therefore we are not investigating any further."

The Serbian Foreign Ministry praised Milinkovic as a distinguished diplomat and jurist who would be "remembered as a skilled diplomat, an intellectual and a noble man."

Milinkovic was appointed ambassador to NATO in 2009, but had already been based in Brussels since 2004 as an envoy from the now-defunct state union of Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbian tabloid newspaper Kurir reported that Milinkovic jumped around 30 feet in the presence of Serbia's assistant foreign minister for security policy, Zoran Vujic.

The report, which could not immediately be confirmed, quoted an unnamed foreign ministry source as saying: "It's possible the man was depressed and that nobody had noticed."

(Robert-Jan Bartunk reported from Brussels and Aleksandar Vasovic from Belgrade; writing by Sebastian Moffett.)