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Tribunal Concludes Milosevic Died of Natural Causes, Not Foul Play


Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic died of natural causes, not from poisoning or other foul play. This is the conclusion of a United Nations inquiry into how the former leader died during the course of his trial for genocide and war crimes.

The tribunal's investigation was undertaken with what it calls "full attention" to the possibility of murder and suicide. It concludes that Milosevic did, indeed, die of a heart attack, as Dutch prosecutors said.

But investigators also found that the former leader did not do himself any favors. He regularly took unprescribed medications they say were smuggled into the prison by visitors. He refused to take his prescribed medicines or took them in the wrong doses. He did not exercise and never stopped smoking, despite his high blood pressure and heart problems. And, Milosevic also refused to have a complete cardio-vascular evaluation and other tests recommended by his Dutch doctors.

Because of this, prison staff members had repeatedly said they could not be responsible for the president's health. Still, the report says there is nothing to suggest that Milosevic did not get the proper care. And, it says despite some media reports to the contrary, Milosevic was not murdered.

Part of the problem was that, because Milosevic was defending himself, he had privileged status. This meant he had his own office and unmonitored phone calls and much of the evidence brought in to help him with his case was off-limits to security guards to check.

The report concludes his privileged status compromised prison security and created uncertainty among prison staff, something they say has to be re-thought for future cases. Some 60 people were interviewed for this wide-ranging report, including Milosevic's son Marko, his legal advisors and several doctors. It painted a final picture of the man held responsible for the breakup of Yugoslavia, lifeless on his prison bed, his face sunken and gray and his ears blue.

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