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Dutch Official Says Milosevic Died of Natural Causes


Dutch public prosecutors have concluded that Slobodan Milosevic died of a heart attack. The former Yugoslav leader was found dead in his Hague jail cell last month while on trial for war crimes. Much controversy over what caused his death followed.

The results of the inquiry by Dutch prosecutors are definitive: they say Slobodan Milosevic died a natural death and that there are no indications he died as the result of any crime.

Their latest findings back up earlier ones that ruled Milosevic's death a heart attack.

Prosecutors estimate Milosevic's time of death at 7:45 in the morning of March 11, 9:00 AM at the latest.

They say Milsoevic did not respond to his wake-up call at 9 o'clock and that guards, assuming he was sleeping, returned at 10, only to find the former leader motionless in his bed. Milosevic's family and supporters have blamed his death on the war crimes tribunal, saying he was poisoned or died from medical neglect.

But this latest report, which closes the official Dutch investigation into Milosevic's death, says an autopsy of the former leader disclosed serious heart disease, not toxic substances, caused his cardiac arrest.

Dutch prosecutor's say their toxicological examination found traces in Milosevic's body only of the substances he was prescribed - and not in toxic concentrations. There were no traces of unprescribed medicines, including the strong antibiotic that was found in his blood in January and which Milsoevic said was put there by people trying to silence him.

A Dutch expert had said he took the medicine himself to try and get treatment in Moscow, where his wife is living. But prosecutors say it is not likely Milosevic took the drug in the days before his death. They also say that despite the fact that non-prescribed drugs were found in his cell last year, no such drugs were found the day after his death.

Tribunal officials welcomed the prosecutors' final findings. They say their own internal inquiry will focus on the medical treatment Milosevic received while in their custody. Results from that investigation are expected shortly.

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