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Branislav Milinkovic, Serbia's ambassador to NATO, sits at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels December 14, 2006 in this handout photo released to Reuters December 5, 2012.
Fri Dec 7, 2012 10:30am EST
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's ambassador to NATO who killed himself earlier this week had recently been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, a government official said on Friday.
Branislav Milinkovic, 52, jumped to his death from a multi-storey car park at Brussels airport on Tuesday evening. Belgian authorities said they would not investigate the incident as all findings indicated a suicide.
On Friday, a Serbian government official who asked not to be named told Reuters that Milinkovic "was apparently distressed by bad news about his health".
Milinkovic's wife Sanja also told a Belgrade newspaper that he had been diagnosed "with a sudden and grave illness" only days before his death.
"Doctors ... told him about prolonged treatment and an uncertain outcome," she was quoted as saying by the tabloid daily Kurir. "Branislav could not bear the fact of living, as he put it, the rest of his life without human dignity."
He committed suicide during a conference of NATO foreign ministers, shortly after meeting a Serb delegation that had arrived for the event.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was deeply saddened by Milinkovic's death. The Serbian Foreign Ministry also praised Milinkovic as a distinguished diplomat and announced a memorial service.
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.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Stephen Powell)
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