Death of Milosevic



Milosevic, who presided over wars and slaughter in which more than 250,000 people died, was found dead in his prison cell, cheating justice for a final time.

On 11th March 2006 Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his cell in the UN detention centre in The Hague. The former Yugoslav President was being tried for 66 counts of crimes against humanity including genocide, by the ICTY. His poor health had held up the long-running trial and no verdict had been reached. Investigations confirmed he died of a heart attack, despite claims from his supporters that he had been poisoned.

Suspicions about the cause of death included; Milosevic had been given the wrong medication, he purposely took the wrong medication in order to evade justice, and that through negligence he had been given sub-standard treatment to prevent a heart attack. Reports started following the Tribunals refusal to allow Milosevic to travel to Russia specialist medical treatment. A decision that he planned to appeal against due to the worsening of his condition.

Milosevic informed the Russian Foreign Minister that he was receiving medication used to treat leprosy without his knowledge and he feared he was being poisoned. The drug was present in his toxicology reports. However, on the final toxicology reports announced on the 5th April 2006, it is confirmed that Milosevic died of natural causes with no traces of poisoning or substances that could trigger a heart attack.

Many supporters in Serbia and his family blame the Tribunal for their negligence, claiming that Milosevic was killed in The Hague. His death came as a blow to the Tribunal, as they wanted to establish an authoritative historical record of the Balkan wars, and a blow to the thousands of victims waiting for justice.

In death as in life Milosevic managed to create bitter divisions. He was buried in his Serbian home town of Pozarevac after the Serbian government refused a state funeral. Across Serbia, the Socialist Party and nationalist leaders called for a state-sponsored and high profile funeral with a position in the ‘Alley of the Greats’ alongside where other Serbian leaders are buried. Eventually it was decided that he should have a private burial in his home town. The Socialist Party organised a farewell ceremony outside the Federal Parliament in Belgrade, where 50,000 Milosevic supporters could attend the ceremony.

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