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Probe shows Milosevic died a natural death

An investigation into the death of Slobodan Milosevic in his cell while on trial for war crimes showed that the former Yugoslav president died of natural causes, Dutch prosecutors said on Wednesday.
/ Source: Reuters

An investigation into the death of Slobodan Milosevic in his cell while on trial for war crimes showed that the former Yugoslav president died of natural causes, Dutch prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Milosevic was found dead in his cell at the detention unit in The Hague on March 11, just months before a verdict was expected in his trial for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

There had been speculation over whether Milosevic had deliberately tried to exacerbate his condition to strengthen his case for release or whether he had been poisoned, as the 64-year-old suggested in a letter to Moscow the day before he died.

"The public prosecutor has concluded that Milosevic died a natural death. There is not a single indication that the death was the result of foul play," prosecutors said in a statement.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said in a statement it welcomed the prosecutor's final findings.

As the investigation confirmed Milosevic died of natural causes, the court's own internal inquiry would focus on the medical treatment given to him while in the tribunal's detention center, the court said.

The tribunal expects to conclude its investigation shortly.

Initial autopsy results had shown that Milosevic died of a heart attack.

"In keeping with its earlier report, the National Forensic Institute has now definitely concluded that the cause of death was a heart attack," prosecutors said. Final toxicological studies also confirmed there were no traces of poisoning or substances which could have triggered a heart attack.

The prosecutor said that although non-prescribed medicines were found in Milosevic's cell in December 2005, no such medicines were found in his cell the day after he died.

Milosevic had suffered from high blood pressure and a heart condition, which according to an initial autopsy explained his heart attack.