Early toxicology findings show no evidence Milosevic was poisoned – UN

17 March 2006 –

Slobodan Milosevic, the late President of Yugoslavia and accused architect of genocide in the Balkans, does not appear to have been poisoned, according to the interim toxicological report of Dutch experts released today by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

In a letter released at the court’s seat at The Hague, the Senior Public Prosecutor of the Netherlands, H.J. Moraal, said, “no indications of poisoning have been found” following an autopsy. “A number of medicines prescribed for Mr. Milosevic were found in the body material, but not in toxic concentration,” he added.

The letter also notes that so far, no traces of rifampicine were found, but notes that “rifampicine disappears from the body quickly, and the fact that no traces were found implies only that it is not likely that rifampicine had been ingested or administered in the last few days before death.” That substance has been the subject of media speculation on the cause of Mr. Milosevic’s death, which was ruled a heart attack by medical experts.

These are only preliminary results, the Public Prosecutor stressed, noting that “the examination has not yet been concluded, and it will be continued in the coming week, among other things on the basis of medical data provided by the ICTY.”

In addition to the Dutch inquiry, the ICTY is conducting its own investigation. Tribunal President Fausto Pocar today said that probe is well underway.

And while voicing full confidence in the Tribunal’s detention unit, the President said it, too, was being audited.

In releasing this information, President Pocar stressed that although it was regrettable that Mr. Milosevic’s death had prevented a judgment, his was not the only important case on the court’s docket. “We continue to try the highest-level persons accused of perpetrating the most serious crimes against Serb, Croat, Bosnian Muslim, Albanian and other victims in the former Yugoslavia,” the President said.

“The Tribunal remains absolutely committed to fulfilling its critical mandate to render justice in these cases as fairly and expeditiously as possible,” he pledged.

At the time of his death on Saturday, Mr. Milosevic faced 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo between 1991 and 1999. The prosecution put forward a wealth of evidence, including the testimony of 295 witnesses and the presentation of 5,000 exhibits, in arguing its case.

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