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Milosevic Possibly Manipulated His Medication to Fake Illness

By Marlise Simons


A top toxicologist in the Netherlands said that he believed Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader, was manipulating medication to fake a medical condition, a plan that might have played a role in the heart attack that caused his death.

That theory was advanced by Dr. Donald Uges, professor of clinical and forensic toxicology at the University of Groningen, who posited that Milosevic was seeking to demonstrate that Dutch doctors could not cure him and that he should therefore be allowed to seek treatment, and freedom, in Moscow. He was imprisoned here on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including genocide during three Balkan wars in the 1990s.

Uges based his theory on his detection in Milosevic’s blood of a drug that had not been prescribed for him and that was not only inappropriate but, under the circumstances, dangerous. He was found on his bed in his prison cell on Saturday morning. The drug at issue is an antibiotic known as rifampicin, used to treat serious bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis. It is known to interfere with medications he was taking for high blood pressure.

An international team of doctors, including Dutch, Belgian, and Serbian forensic specialists, attended an autopsy on Sunday and said in a preliminary report that Milosevic had died of a heart attack. Their toxicology tests will be due in the coming days.

But experts from Moscow want to examine the results and perform their own autopsy in the belief that the previous one was inconclusive or erroneous, a plan that could delay Milosevic family plans to take the body to Belgrade for burial. Other investigations are still going on. Dutch police and the U.N. tribunal where Milosevic was on trial, are each carrying on their own investigations into his abrupt death. The discovery of the drug in Milosevic’s blood as recently as two weeks ago has raised a litany of questions, including who brought it into the prison and how it ended up in Milosevic’s system

Dutch police have searched for clues in the three rooms most used by Milosevic: his private cell, the small room he used as his office, and the room where he received visitors. They are also investigating the source of the drug, which is difficult to obtain in the Netherlands. All physicians treating Milosevic have reported that they never prescribed rifampicin for him, confidential court documents show.