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Update from the President on the Death of Slobodan Milosevic

Press Release
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 17 March 2006

Update from the President on the Death of Slobodan Milosevic


As a follow-up to my statement on Sunday 12 March 2006, I would like to inform you of the status of the inquest by the Dutch authorities, more precisely, by the Netherlands Forensic Institute, and the Tribunal's internal inquiry into the death of Slobodan Milosevic.

As I indicated previously, according to the Tribunal's Rules of Detention, the authorities of the Host State of the Netherlands, are conducting an inquest, pursuant to their law and independently of the Tribunal. Because the Dutch coroners who examined Slobodan Milosevic on Saturday 11 March were unable to establish a cause of death, an autopsy was ordered, as required under Dutch law. The autopsy was performed on Sunday 12 March in the afternoon, and two pathologists from Belgrade attended the procedure.

On Sunday night 12 March, the Tribunal received a brief summary of the autopsy results. According to the pathologists, Slobodan Milosevic's cause of death was a “myocardial infarction”. Further, the pathologists identified two heart conditions that Slobodan Milosevic suffered from, which they said would explain the myocardial infarction. I met this week with a team of Russian pathologists who reviewed the autopsy report and informed me that in their view the procedure was conducted at the highest level and they were in full agreement with the results. I am informed that the Serbian pathologists hold the same view.

In the meantime, I assigned a Trial Chamber to review certain confidential materials filed in the case against Slobodan Milosevic in order to lift the confidentiality of those materials for purposes of granting access to the Dutch authorities as well as to the Tribunal's internal inquiry. Yesterday, the Trial Chamber ordered that they should have full access to the Milosevic case file.

In addition to the autopsy, the Dutch authorities conducted a toxicological examination. Today we received an interim report that I have been authorized to disclose. The results are attached.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Dutch authorities for all their efforts in expediting their inquest.

As I already stated, in addition to the independent inquest that is being conducted by the Dutch authorities, I ordered a full inquiry on Saturday 11 March to be conducted at the highest level by the Tribunal. I nominated the Vice-President, Judge Kevin Parker, to head the inquiry. The Vice-President's inquiry is already well underway with the assistance of senior, experienced Tribunal officials, and with the full cooperation of the Registry and the Commanding Officer of the UN Detention Unit. The Vice-President has informed me that some issues may take several weeks to thoroughly examine. In that case, I expect to receive an interim report as soon as possible.

I have noted in the media speculation with regard to the running of the UN Detention Unit. I have full confidence in the professionalism of the Detention Unit's Commanding Officer and his staff. This has been confirmed by thorough and frequent inspections of the UN Detention Unit by highly respected independent bodies. They have consistently reported that conditions in the Detention Unit are of the very highest standard.

Nevertheless, to ensure full transparency, the Registrar has ordered another external audit of the UN Detention Unit and we are currently in the process of finalizing the arrangements, which we aim to commence in the next week.

I would like to restate that the Tribunal regrets Slobodan Milosevic's death and the fact that the case against him will not be brought to judgement. We recognize that this case was an important one. However, it is not the only important case that the Tribunal's judges have before them. 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. In closing, I would like to emphasize that the Tribunal remains absolutely committed to fulfilling its critical mandate to render justice in these cases as fairly and expeditiously as possible.

See the Provisional findings concerning the death of S. Milosevic issued by The Hague District Public Prosecutor's Office
English | French | BCS | Dutch (PDF)

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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