Tests show Milosevic took wrong drugs
Slobodan Milosevic took drugs that worsened his health before dying in prison, a Dutch expert said on Monday, as the former Yugoslav president's family tried to decide whether to bury him in Serbia or Russia. Adding to controversy over Milosevic's death just months before an expected verdict in his war crimes trial, Russia expressed its "distrust" of proceedings and pressed The Hague tribunal to allow its doctors to examine post mortem results.

Groningen University toxicologist Donald Uges told Reuters he thought Milosevic had knowingly taken harmful medicines to improve his case for going for medical treatment to Russia, where his wife, son and brother live.

"I don't think he took his medicines for suicide -- only for his trip to Moscow ... that is where his friends and family are. I think that was his last possibility to escape The Hague," toxicologist Uges said. "I am so sure there is no murder." Uges said tests he conducted two weeks ago on Milosevic's blood showed traces of rifampicin -- a drug used against leprosy and tuberculosis that would have neutralized other medicines.

A preliminary autopsy report on Sunday showed Milosevic had died of a heart attack, but toxicology tests were still under way. The tribunal said it did not expect results on Monday. The autopsy was conducted by Dutch scientists and attended by Serbian pathologists. Serbia said the autopsy had been very professional and the whole procedure filmed. But Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying Moscow did not trust the autopsy results and wanted its doctors to examine the results of the post mortem.

Last month, the tribunal rejected a request by Milosevic to be allowed to travel to Moscow for specialist medical care. His lawyer said Milosevic feared he was being poisoned with the wrong drugs in a bid to silence him, and wrote to Russia the day before he died asking for help.

Saying she was furious Milosevic's victims had been denied justice, U.N. chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte suggested he might have killed himself to evade a verdict, noting that former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic committed suicide at the jail last week.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. tribunal said it was too early to say whether the heart attack might have been caused by poisoning or whether suicide could be ruled out, adding that an inquiry ordered by court president Fausto Pocar was continuing.

The man branded the "Butcher of the Balkans" had been on trial for four years charged with 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes involving conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo that tore Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s. The tribunal said it would hold a hearing on Tuesday at 0800 GMT that was expected to formally close the Milosevic trial.
Posted by: Pappy 2006-03-13