Serbia's president had triple heart bypass

BELGRADE, Apr 13, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbia's President Milan Milutinovic had a heart attack over the weekend and underwent a triple bypass operation, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

A statement carried by the state news agency Tanjug on Monday had said only that Milutinovic, 57, had undergone heart surgery, adding that it was a "planned" operation.

A source close to Milutinovic confirmed the heart attack, saying it was the second he had suffered in recent years.

Both the paper and the agency said he was recovering well.

"President Milutinovic underwent the triple bypass surgery in the Centre after a heart attack and was operated on by cardio surgeon Reik Huskic," the independent daily Danas said, quoting "unofficial" sources.

It said Milutinovic had gone into the "Dedinje" clinic in Belgrade early on Monday and security was tightened that evening when Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had been expected to visit. It did not say if the visit took place.

Milosevic holds ultimate power over Serbia, which dominates the current two-republic Yugoslav federation of Serbia and Montenegro, but if Milutinovic had to step down over ill health, elections would follow that could weaken that power.

Serbia's constitution stipulates that the parliament speaker would step in for a maximum of two months pending early presidential elections, something Serbia's opposition has been calling for months, along with a parliamentary ballot.

Milutinovic and Milosevic, along with three other top officials, have been indicted by a UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague for alleged atrocities their forces committed in the Kosovo conflict in 1998-1999.

Original article