Serbia's Nato ambassador jumps to death in Brussels car-park

Branko died in front of his country's diplomatic delegation

Serbia's ambassador to Nato committed suicide by jumping from a multi-storey car-park in front of his country's diplomatic delegation at Brussels international airport this week, it was reported today.

The country's Foreign Ministry confirmed Branko Milinkovic died "tragically" in the Belgian capital, where he had travelled to attend a Nato conference.

Ministry officials also paid tribute to the 51-year-old and praised his legal and diplomatic skills.

A Serbian diplomatic source said later Mr Milinkovic's death was not related to the Nato meeting, adding: "We're in shock.… No one has a clue why this happened, maybe depression that went unnoticed."

It was reported Mr Milinkovic jumped from the 30ft high car-park in the presence of Serbia's Deputy Foreign Minister Zoran Vujic while waiting for the arrival of a Serbian delegation. Mr Vujic heads the security branch of the Foreign Ministry. As the delegation arrived, Mr Milinkovic allegedly moved away from them and apparently leapt to his death by jumping over the wall of the car-park. The incident took place yesterday at 6pm.

Serbian journalists in Brussels said Mr Milinkovic had acted normally during the day, talking and chatting with them as they covered a Nato foreign ministers' meeting. The Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said last night: "Belgian police are investigating the case, but everything indicates suicide."

Mr Milinkovic's wife, who is a diplomat based in Vienna, was on a business trip to Dublin at the time of his death. Their 18-year-old son was in Vienna.

Serbia is not a member of Nato, but is a member of its Partnership for Peace programme, which provides for co-operation in defence and security issues. Mr Milinkovic established Serbia's mission to the alliance in 2004 and became Serbia's first ambassador to Nato in 2009.

Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement yesterday that the organisation was, "deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Serbian ambassador".

An alliance spokeswoman added "Mr Milinkovic was a highly respected representative of his country and will be missed."