Dutch doctor affirms unperceived antibiotic in Milosevic's blood

A Dutch toxicologist said Monday he found traces of an unprescribed antibiotic in Slobodan Milosevic's system earlier this year that may have worsened the former Yugoslav leader's health. Donald Uges said he detected traces of rifampicin, which "makes the liver extremely active" and breaks down other medications very quickly, possibly taking away their effectiveness.

Milosevic, 64, had a history of heart problems and high blood pressure, and took medications to treat those conditions. He was found dead in his jail cell Saturday morning of an apparent heart attack. It was still unclear Monday where Milosevic would be buried, with his family calling for a state funeral in Serbia a request unlikely to be granted by Belgrade. Milosevic's son who was planning to travel to the Netherlands to take charge of the body even mentioned the possibility of a temporary interment in Russia.

Uges, the toxicologist, suggested Milosevic may have intentionally taken the unprescribed medication in a bid to be released from jail and get medical attention in Russia by portraying his Dutch doctors as unable to treat his condition. "First he wasn't taking his medicine. Then he was forced to take it under supervision and his blood pressure still didn't come down. So his camp said 'you see, these Dutch doctors don't know how to treat him and he should go to Russia," Uges said.

His ailments caused numerous delays in his four-year trial for orchestrating a decade of conflict that killed 250,000 people and tore the Yugoslav federation apart. No verdict will be issued and the case will be scrapped. A lawyer for Milosevic, meanwhile, said Monday that his family wanted him to be given a state funeral in Belgrade. Milosevic's son, Marko, was granted a visa Monday in Moscow to visit the Netherlands.

It was unlikely Serb authorities would agree to a state funeral which could provoke tumultuous scenes in the capital he ruled for 13 years before being extradited to the war crimes tribunal for trial. Serbian President Boris Tadic said Sunday a state funeral for Milosevic would be "absolutely inappropriate."

Adding to the confusion over the site of an eventual burial, Marko Milosevic said Monday from Moscow that his family would consider asking for the former Yugoslav leader to be interred temporarily in the Russian capital until a funeral could be held in Belgrade.

"It depends on whether they will secure my family's safety," he said, referring to an international arrest warrant for his mother. Milosevic was found dead just hours after writing an accusatory letter alleging that a "heavy drug" had been found in his bloodstream. Zdenko Tomanovic, the family lawyer, said Milosevic was "seriously concerned" he was being poisoned.

The U.N. war crimes tribunal said Sunday that a heart attack killed Milosevic, according to preliminary findings from Dutch pathologists, who conducted a nearly eight-hour autopsy on the former Yugoslav leader. A tribunal spokeswoman said a final autopsy report would be released in coming days.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Moscow does not fully trust Milosevic's autopsy and wanted to send doctors to examine the body. Dutch visas were also granted to four Russian doctors who hope to conduct a second autopsy on Milosevic after Moscow said it was suspicious of the Dutch testing.

Milosevic asked the tribunal in December for permission to seek heart treatment in Moscow. That request was denied after tribunal officials expressed concern Milosevic might not return. He repeated the request last month. Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and put on trial in February 2002 on 66 counts for war crimes and genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during Yugoslavia's violent breakup in the 1990s. He was the first sitting head of state indicted for war crimes. He was the sixth war crimes suspect from the Balkans to die at The Hague. A week earlier, convicted former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, a star prosecution witness against Milosevic, killed himself in the same prison, reports the AP.


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