Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic died of natural causes, an official
report by the UN war crimes tribunal said, saying it had found no evidence of
poisoning or suicide.
Supporters of late
former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic attend a memorial service in
Belgrade in March 2006. Milosevic died of natural causes, an official
report by the UN war crimes tribunal said, saying it had found no evidence
of poisoning or suicide.[AFP]
The report effectively exonerates the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia in The Hague of blame over Milosevic's death of a heart
attack, although it acknowledges security failings in his detention unit.
It concluded that the unique arrangement allowing Milosevic to conduct his
own defence had "compromised security" which allowed him to get unprescribed
Milosevic, 64, died suddenly March 11 a few months before the expected end of
his mammoth trial here on war crimes over his role in the bloody conflicts in
Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo that tore apart the Balkans.
He was indicted on more than 60 counts including genocide, war crimes and
crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing in the war in Bosnian and
the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica.
The report, conducted by the tribunal's vice president, judge Kevin Parker,
found that "proper care" was taken in providing Milosevic medical attention.
"Nothing has been found to support allegations reported in some sections of
the media that Mr Milosevic had been murdered, in particular by poisoning," it
Previous reports by Dutch authorities had also found that Milosevic died of a
On several occasions, medicines that had not been prescribed to him by his
Dutch doctors were found in Milosevic's cell, leading some supporters to claim
he had been poisoned and some opponents to suggest he committed suicide.
Milosevic's brother rejected the report's findings as "absolutely wrong and
incorrect" in an interview with the Interfax news agency in Russia, where he
Borislav Milosevic said the tribunal bore responsibility for his brother's
death. "They denied him permission to receive treatment and so deprived him of
the right to live," the agency quoted him as saying. "This is like murder."
The court stressed that contraband medication had been found in the cell.
"Medication, rifampicin (a strong antibiotic that would have countered the
effects of his heart medication) but also other drugs were found in his cell,"
ICTY spokesman Christian Chartier said.
The report said that Milosevic may have self-administered rifampicin, which
"would support a conclusion that he was manipulating the effectiveness of his
prescribed treatment for other purposes, at obvious risk to himself."
According to the report, he refused on several occasions to take prescribed
medication and ignored medical advice.
It concluded that the measures taken to allow Milosevic to act as his own
lawyer "compromised security" at the UN's detention centre.
"Because of these arrangements, Mr Milosevic was able to obtain medications
not prescribed for him by treating doctors."
Chartier said the court was not planning to step up security as the report
did not establish a link between Milosevic's death and the medication found in
Milosevic was the first ex-head of state to appear before an international
criminal tribunal and faced life in jail if convicted.
The trial, which began in February 2002, was frequently interrupted because
of illness caused by high blood pressure and heart problems.
"The problem appeared progressively. He would be sick, his blood pressure
would rise but then it would drop back to normal levels," Chartier said.
The report stressed that lessons should be learnt from the Milosevic trial in
determining whether and how a detainee should conduct his own