Author Topic: Slobodan Milošević found dead  (Read 1288 times)

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Slobodan Milošević found dead
« on: March 11, 2006, 05:07:09 pm »
(CNN) -- Authorities with the U.N. war crimes tribunal are investigating the death of Slobodan Milosevic after the former Yugoslav president was found dead Saturday morning in his cell in The Hague, Netherlands. He was 64.

Milosevic, who was on trial before the tribunal, was found in bed at the Scheveningen detention center. He probably had been dead for several hours, an official with the chief prosecutor's office said.

Milosevic's family and supporters are blaming the tribunal for his death.

His attorney, Zdenko Tomanovic, has said there were attempts to poison Milosevic in prison.

Officials denied Tomanovic's request that the autopsy be performed in Russia, where Milosevic's family members are. However, the tribunal said a senior pathologist from the Serbian capital of Belgrade will be in attendance Sunday as a Dutch medical team performs the autopsy.

Milosevic's death came just a few months before the expected conclusion of his trial, which had lasted more than four years. (Watch what allegations brought Milosevic to The Hague -- 4:46)

Doctors had recommended Milosevic be closely monitored by a cardiologist and given rest days to manage elevated blood pressure.

The tribunal rejected Milosevic's February 24 request to travel to Russia for medical treatment. Milosevic had said he would appeal the decision, saying his health was worsening and called the ruling "highly unjust."

Milosevic's widow, Mirjana, said, "The tribunal has killed my husband."

His brother Boroslav also blamed the tribunal, saying, "It is four months since Slobodan asked to let him go for medical treatment."

Milosevic's death has generated a sweeping range of reactions. Serbian President Boris Tadic expressed condolences to the Milosevic family, while High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown said the former Yugoslav president led "the great nation of Serbs into catastrophe and shame." Ashdown's position was created under the Dayton accords that brought peace to the warring factions in Bosnia in 1995.

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy who brokered the Dayton accords said, "I'm not going to shed any tears." (Read reactions)
Six others at large

Though Milosevic's trial was ongoing, the U.S. State Department blames him for the "for the violent dismemberment of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, including the outbreak of two horrific wars in Bosnia and Kosovo."

The International Criminal Tribunal released a statement saying that Milosevic's death "will prevent justice to be done in his case. But it promised to pursue six other Bosnian Serb senior leaders still at large, including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

The European Union has told Serbia that it has until March to hand over Mladic or the nation's prospective membership in the EU will be put on hold, said European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

Mladic and Karadzic are charged with planning the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Though they are considered pariahs internationally, about 10,000 demonstrators turned out in Belgrade last month in a show of support for Mladic.

"The international community and the tribunal are responsible to the victims to ensure that all of these accused are brought to justice and tried in The Hague," the court said.

Holbrooke disputed the court's claim that the chance for justice passed with Milosevic.

"Justice wasn't cheated this morning," Holbrooke said. "Justice was served by the existence of this tribunal, the exposure of his crimes and the fact that he ended his days in jail."

Milosevic rose to the top of Yugoslav politics in the power vacuum left by the 1980 death of post-World War II Yugoslav dictator Marshal Tito.

Elected Serbian president in 1990, he ruled with an iron grip until his overthrow in 2000. He was transferred to The Hague in 2001 and went on trial the following year. (Profile)

At the time of his death, Milosevic faced 66 charges, including those of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He was called the "Butcher of the Balkans" because of the ethnic cleansing campaign, in which Bosnian Serbs systematically killed Bosnian Muslims. (Watch the bloody story of the Balkans wars)

Milosevic pleaded not guilty to all counts and repeatedly said he was not responsible for ordering killings and rapes. He also said he was defending the Serbian people against terror.
Milosevic's last days

Milosevic "appeared fine" March 1, his last day at the trial, an observer said Saturday.

His "voice was slightly more hoarse than usual," recalled Edgar Chen, counsel and legal liaison to the war crimes tribunal, in an e-mail. "Otherwise, he seemed his usual self for the last few sessions."

On February 22, however, Milosevic complained of a "thundering noise" in his head and demanded he be granted provisional release to Russia, Chen recalled. The tribunal's doctor was ordered to examine him.

Along with headaches, Milosevic also complained of hearing problems, Chen said. The next day. Milosevic couldn't complete the questioning of a witness because of his health.

Milosevic's death comes a day before the third anniversary of the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic,who was integral in the overthrow of Milosevic.

His death also comes less than a week after Milan Babic, former leader of rebel Serbs, committed suicide. Babic was serving a 13-year sentence for war crimes and was found dead in his cell at the same prison in The Hague where Milosevic died. (Details)

It is not clear whether Milosevic's death will have any impact on diplomatic efforts this year to determine the future of Kosovo, the disputed region of Serbia dominated by Albanians.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid grave human rights abuses in the fighting between Serbs and Albanians.