A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Russia confirms Milosevic letter, wants to review post mortem results

[JURIST] Russian Foreign Ministry officials confirmed Monday that they had received a letter written by Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] on March 8 complaining about his medical care while in prison at The Hague and pressed for Russian medical experts to participate in his post mortem. A Ministry spokesman said in a statement:

In this handwritten letter Slobodan Milosevic speaks of the inadequate treatment administered by doctors of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [sic] and again asks for the Russian Federation's support in obtaining permission to undergo a therapeutic course in a medical establishment in Moscow.
The spokesman also said that at the request of the family Russia would be sending a team of doctors to The Hague to "participate in the post mortem examination", initial results of which indicated Sunday that the former Yugoslav president on trial for war crimes died of a heart attack. A Health Ministry official said the medical team would be from the Bakulev Institute [RIA Novosti report], where Milosevic had wanted to be treated, and would also include Russia's chief pathologist. The ICTY Trial Chamber ruled against Milosevic's application for provisional release [JURIST report] for medical treatment in Russia late last month because it was not satisfied that he would return to face the remainder of his trial. The former Yugoslav president was found dead in his prison cell [JURIST report] Saturday. It is not yet clear whether the ICTY will allow the Russian team to take part in the post mortem or review its full results, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Monday "In the situation where we were distrusted, we also have the right to distrust." Reuters has more.

Meanwhile a Dutch toxicologist has told Reuters that based on blood tests he conducted on Milosevic two weeks ago showed that he had taken rifampicin, a drug used to treat leprosy and tuberculosis that would have countered the effects of Milosevic's heart medication. Groningen University's Donald Uges rejected any suggestions of murder or suicide, however, suggesting instead that Milosevic was trying to worsen his condition so the war crimes tribunal would send him to Moscow for treatment. Reuters has more. If Milosevic was obtaining and taking this drug on his own, without the supervision of doctors at the ICTY's Scheveningen Detention Unit, it would not have been the first time [BBC report] he had taken unprescribed medications.

5:35 PM ET - AP has published the text of Milosevic's letter to the Russian Foreign Ministry in an English translated provided by lawyer Zdenko Tomanovic:
To the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

With my acknowledgment for the solidarity and understanding which you expressed by accepting to receive me to come for medical treatment and by giving guarantees, I would like to inform you about the following:

I think that the persistence, with which the medical treatment in Russia was denied, in the first place is motivated by the fear that through careful examination it would be discovered, that there were active, willful steps taken, to destroy my health, throughout the proceedings of the trial, which could not be hidden from Russian specialists.

In order to verify my allegations, I'm presenting you a simple example which you can find in the attachment. This document, which I received on March 7, shows that on January 12th (i.e. two months ago), an extremely strong drug was found in my blood, which is used, as they themselves say, for the treatment of tuberculosis and leprosy, although I never used any kind of antibiotic during this 5 years that I'm in their prison.

Throughout this whole period, neither have I had any kind of infectious illness (apart from flu).

Also the fact that doctors needed 2 months (to report to me), can't have any other explanation than we are facing manipulation. In any case, those who foist on me a drug against leprosy surely can't treat my illness; likewise those from which I defended my country in times of war and who have an interest to silence me.

Dear Sirs, it is known to you that Russian physicians, who rank among the most respected physicians in the world, came to the conclusion that the examination and treatment of the vascular problems in my head are inevitable and urgent. I know very well that this is true, as I feel very bad.

I'm addressing you in expectation that you help me defend my health from the criminal activities in this institution, working under the sign of the U.N., and that I be enabled as soon as possible to get adequate treatment in your hospital, in whose physicians, as well as in Russia, I have absolute confidence.

Yours sincerely,

Slobodan Milosevic

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.