Minister Questions Autopsy on Milosevic
Published: March 14, 2006 (Issue # 1152)
MOSCOW — Russia does not fully trust the autopsy on Slobodan Milosevic and wants to send its own doctors to examine the body, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
Milosevic’s son, meanwhile, said the family would consider asking for Milosevic to be interred temporarily in Moscow until a funeral could be held in Belgrade.
Lavrov also repeated Russia’s criticism of the UN war crimes tribunal for refusing last month to allow the former Yugoslav president to travel to Moscow for medical treatment.
Clearly stung by the rejection of Russia’s “100 percent state guarantee” that Milosevic would return to finish his trial following treatment, Lavrov told reporters that Moscow was “disturbed” by the decision.
“It cannot fail to alarm us that Milosevic died shortly afterward,” he pointedly added.
“Essentially, they didn’t believe Russia,” Lavrov said. “In a situation where we weren’t believed, we also have the right not to believe and not to trust those who are conducting this autopsy.”
Russia has asked the court to allow its experts to “take part in the autopsy or at least acquaint themselves with its results,” Lavrov said, adding that a team of medics was ready to fly “urgently” to The Hague.
The Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Health Ministry official as saying a Russian team would leave for the Netherlands early Tuesday.
Milosevic died in his cell Saturday, the tribunal said. The body will be claimed by Milosevic’s son, Marko, on Monday or Tuesday, Milosevic’s lawyer, Zdenko Tomanovic, said.
Although authorities in Belgrade had issued an international arrest warrant for Marko Milosevic in 2003 for alleged abuse of power, the charges were later dropped.
Speaking in an interview with Russian state-run television, Marko Milosevic said he would appeal to authorities to consider allowing Milosevic to be interred in Moscow temporarily.
“It depends on whether they will secure my family’s safety,” he said outside the Dutch Embassy in Moscow, where he received a visa to travel to The Hague to claim his father’s remains.
“I have appealed, though unofficially since I just arrived here ... whether we can bury him in Moscow, at least temporarily, until there are conditions in Serbia when it will be possible to do everything as it should be,” he said.
Lavrov also confirmed that his ministry received a letter from Milosevic in which he complained of inadequate medical treatment in jail and asked Moscow to revive efforts to let him undergo treatment in Russia. He said the letter was dated March 8 but arrived in Moscow on Sunday.
“It expresses concern that in his opinion certain methods of treatment conducted by doctors of the tribunal had a negative impact on his health,” Lavrov said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Milosevic’s family, including his older brother, Borislav, requested Russian pathologists’ involvement in additional forensic research.
Borislav Milosevic, who lives in the Russian capital, was himself hospitalized overnight with a heart problem at Moscow’s Bakulev clinic.
“I had some problem overnight, but it wasn’t a heart attack,” Interfax quoted him as saying.
UN war crimes tribunal spokes-woman Alexandra Milenov said Sunday that an autopsy revealed Milosevic had died of a heart attack, and that he had been suffering from two heart conditions. She did not name the conditions, but said the doctors determined they might have caused the heart attack.
A Dutch toxicologist on Monday confirmed that he found traces of an unprescribed drug in a blood sample taken from Milosevic earlier this year.
Donald Uges said he was asked to inspect the sample after Milosevic’s blood pressure failed to respond to medication given by doctors at the UN detention center near The Hague.
Uges said he found traces of rifampicin, a drug that could have reduced the effectiveness of his other medications.
Tomanovic, Milosevic’s lawyer, said Sunday the former president had feared he was being poisoned.
He showed reporters a six-page letter to the Russian Embassy which he said Milosevic wrote Friday — the day before his death — claiming that traces of a “heavy drug” were found in his blood.
Russia has historic ties with largely Slavic, Orthodox Christian Serbia and sharply opposed the NATO bombing of Milosevic’s Yugoslavia in 1999.