Tribunal: Milosevic Defied Docs' Orders

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 31, 2006; 3:15 PM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Slobodan Milosevic defied doctors' orders to quit smoking and took unauthorized medication smuggled to him in prison, a U.N. war crimes tribunal report into his death said Wednesday.

In the most complete survey of events leading to the former Yugoslav president's death in March, the report cleared U.N. authorities of giving inadequate medical care, and said the fatal heart attack probably could not have been prevented.

Milosevic's brother disputed the report, saying the tribunal "bears responsibility for my brother's death" because it "denied him the opportunity for treatment." The tribunal rejected Slobodan Milosevic's request to see a heart specialist in Moscow.

The report by the tribunal's vice president said special privileges accorded to Milosevic compromised security at the U.N. Detention Unit, enabling him to receive nonprescribed medications.

It called for a review of prison procedures and access to medical records, now protected by Dutch confidentiality laws.

The Serb leader was found dead March 11 in his cell near The Hague. He was defending himself against 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the Balkan wars.

The report by Judge Kevin Parker provided a detailed survey of Milosevic's medical record since he was extradited to the U.N. Detention Unit in June 2001, already suffering from high blood pressure and a list of other coronary ailments.

Even then, his Belgrade physician warned U.N. doctors that Milosevic was at high risk of a stroke or a sudden heart attack.

The account lent some support to accusations by the prosecution during Milosevic's trial that he was manipulating his medical regime to gain time in preparing his case.

It cited Milosevic's cardiologist and two independent doctors as advising that heart surgery was unnecessary, but it quoted a Moscow doctor as disagreeing with that opinion.

"In these circumstances it cannot be concluded that there was a failure to provide proper care," the report said.

It said the tribunal had consulted outside physicians on Milosevic's treatment. The court also had twice reduced the trial schedule and had repeatedly called lengthy adjournments to allow him time to rest from the stress of conducting his own defense.

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