Milan Kovacevic was born on 10 February 1941, in the village of Bozici, in Prijedor Municipality, Bosnia Herzegovina. He was an anaesthetist by profession and served as the Director of the Prijedor Medical Center. He joined the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) in 1990. He was officially appointed President of the Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of Prijedor on 4 January 1991. He was also appointed as a member of the Municipal Committee for National Defence. The members of the SDS-appointed Committee of National Defence, including theaccused, would later become the Municipality of Prijedor Crisis Staff.
When the Crisis Staff took over power, Milan Kovacevic was appointed as its Vice-President.
His duties included: assisting the president in the exercise of his function and substituting for him in his absence; co-ordinating all Civil Defence activities (including, inter alia, planning protective measures for the Serbian population during attacks, and the subsequent removal of dead bodies and clean up of the buildings which had been destroyed in the areas attacked); taking charge of certain political responsibilities, including the propaganda programme and ensuring that all the logistical support necessary for the successful conduct of the armed conflict and the operation of the Municipality was in place and operational.
As the Vice-President of the Crisis Staff, Milan Kovacevic was said to have played a key role in the crimes that occurred in the Municipality of Prijedor. The core members of the Crisis Staff included Milan Kovacevic, the SDS-appointed President of the Municipal Assembly, the President of the Municipal Board of the SDS in Prijedor, the SDS-appointed Commander of the Territorial Defence (TO), the SDS-appointed Commander of the Public Security Centre , and the Commander of the local Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) garrison. These leading members worked closely together as a team in the planning and decision making process concerning the complete range of operations related to the conduct of hostilities and the destruction of the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat communities in the Municipality. Individual members then carried out the responsibilities specifically assigned to them under the plan. Throughout its existence, the Crisis Staff worked as a collective body to co-ordinate and implement the overall plan which was to take over, control and “ethnically cleanse” the Prijedor Municipality.
According to the indictment, immediately after the takeover of the town of Prijedor, the Crisis Staff imposed severe restrictions on all aspects of life for non-Serbs, including freedom of movement and the right to employment. The effect of these restrictions was to confine the non-Serb population to the villages and areas in the Municipality where they were then living. Beginning in late May, those areas were subjected to extremely violent, large-scale attacks by the Serb military and police forces. The Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats who survived the initial artillery and infantry attacks were reported to have been captured by the Serb forces and transferred to camps and detention facilities established and operated under the direction of the Crisis Staff.
In the camps and detention facilities, the Serb forces were said to have targeted the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, in particular intellectuals, professional and political leaders, and males of military age, who were singled out for killing, torture, and other inhumane treatment. During the period from end May, 1992, to early August, 1992, at a minimum, hundreds of prisoners, many of whom were never identified, perished. After the existence of the camps became known to the outside world in early August 1992, the Crisis Staff closed the Omarska and Keraterm camps and transferred the survivors to the remaining camp in Prijedor Municipality and to the Manjaca camp in the Banja Luka Municipality. It was from these two camps that almost all of the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat survivors were then transferred by force or deported from the area.
Milan Kovacevic was detained by the SFOR forces and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 10 July 1997.