Hospitals & Asylums    

Obituary of Slobodan Milosevic HA-11-3-06

On Saturday morning, 11 March 2006, a prison guard found the former Yugoslav leader, Slobodan Milosevic, lifeless in bed. It was an abrupt end to his four-year U.N. war crimes tribunal for orchestrating a decade of conflict that ended with 250,000 dead and the Yugoslav federation torn asunder.  There was no comment from Milosevic's wife, Mirjana, who was often characterized as a power behind the scenes during her husband's autocratic rule and has been in self-imposed exile in Russia since 2003. Their son, Marko, also lives in Russia, and their daughter, Marija, lives in Montenegro.  Just 10 days ago, Milosevic complained in court of a "thundering noise" in his head. The next day he cut short an examination of a witness because of another headache. The following day, Feb. 24, he protested the refusal of presiding Judge Patrick Robinson to let him go to Moscow for treatment, but Robinson cut him off. "I'm not going to consider this," Robinson told him.  The tart exchange was typical of many over the course of the first such trial involving a former head of state - this one a man reviled by the United States as "the butcher of the Balkans" but a hero to many Serbs despite losing four wars and impoverishing his people in the 1990s while trying to unite Serbia with Serb-dominated areas of Croatia and Bosnia.  This denial of specialist care is in violation of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted Aug. 30, 1955 by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, U.N. Doc. A/CONF/611, annex I, E.S.C. res. 663C, 24 U.N. ESCOR Supp. (No. 1) at 11, U.N. Doc. E/3048 (1957), amended E.S.C. res. 2076, 62 U.N. ESCOR Supp. (No. 1) at 35, U.N. Doc. E/5988 (1977)  that states, “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals”.

Milosevic apparently died of natural causes, according to the U.N. tribunal that was trying him on 66 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. His chronic heart ailments and high blood pressure had caused numerous long recesses in the trial. The death came nearly five years after Milosevic was arrested by Serb authorities and extradited to The Hague as the first sitting head of state ever to be indicted for war crimes.  It meant there would be no judicial verdict for the leader accused of ethnic massacres and other atrocities in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo and was sure to increase criticism of the tribunal for what has been a long, expensive and ultimately wasted proceeding.  The trial, which began in February 2002, will be terminated, tribunal spokeswoman Alexandra Milenov said.  The chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, expressed regret, saying she believed she would have won a conviction. "I also regret it for the victims, the thousands of victims, who have been waiting for justice," Del Ponte told Swiss Television DRS while visiting her native Switzerland.

Former President Clinton, whose administration confronted Milosevic's regime, also lamented that no verdict would be reached. "I am sorry that his trial will not be completed, and that he did not acknowledge and apologize for his crimes before his death. Nevertheless, his capture and trial will serve as a reminder that egregious crimes against humanity will not be tolerated," Clinton said in a statement released by his office in New York.

Milosevic was accused of being behind a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Serbs during the wars that erupted as the Yugoslav federation began breaking apart in 1991, and his death was cheered by many in the Balkans. "Finally, we have some reason to smile. God is fair," said Hajra Catic, who heads an association of women who lost loved ones when ethnic Serb troops slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica in 1995.

In Serbia, where many people praised Milosevic for trying to preserve Serb dominance, supporters declared his death a "huge loss." The tribunal said a guard at the U.N. jail in suburban Scheveningen found Milosevic's body between 9 and 10 a.m. Saturday. It said an autopsy would be conducted Sunday by Dutch officials - with a pathologist from Serbia-Montenegro in attendance - to determine the cause of death.  Milosevic's older brother, Borislav, said the family did not trust the tribunal to carry out an impartial autopsy.  He blamed the tribunal for his brother's death because it rejected his request to get medical treatment in Russia, which offered assurances that Milosevic would be returned to finish his trial.  "All responsibility for this lies on the shoulders of the international tribunal. He asked for treatment several months ago, they knew this," Borislav Milosevic told The Associated Press in Moscow, where he lives. "They drove him to this as they didn't want to let him out alive."

Zdenko Tomanovic, the defendant's legal adviser, told Serbia's independent B-92 radio from The Hague that Milosevic had complained that "someone wants to poison" him. Tomanovic later told state Serbian TV that Russian experts would be permitted to attend Sunday's autopsy.  The White House said it was waiting for more information. "We have seen the news that Slobodan Milosevic has died in his prison in The Hague," spokesman Blair Jones said. "We do not have all the details yet."

Milosevic's trial and Saddam Hussein's war crimes proceeding in Iraq were widely seen as together constituting the most important legal test for the international community since German and Japanese leaders were tried after World War II.  Both trials drew stiff criticism over frequent interruptions and the ability of the defendants to use the courtroom as a stage to launch vitriolic anti-Western diatribes. Reveling in the spotlight, Milosevic insisted on serving as his own defense lawyer, he was able to stay as the Serbs' leader for 13 years despite a crumbling economy and increasing international isolation.  He once described himself as the "Ayatollah Khomeini of Serbia," assuring his prime minister, Milan Panic, that "the Serbs will follow me no matter what."

Ivica Dacic, a ranking Socialist Party official, said in Belgrade that Milosevic's death was a "great loss for Serbia, for the entire Serb nation and for the Socialist party.  Milosevic was carrying out not only his own defense but also the defense of Serb honor," Dacic said. "The entire country must thank him for this."  But in the end, his people abandoned him: first in October 2000, when he was unable to convince most Yugoslavs that he had staved off electoral defeat by Vojislav Kostunica, and again on April 1, 2001, when he surrendered after a 26-hour standoff to face criminal charges. "It is a pity he didn't live to the end of the trial to get the sentence he deserved," Croatian President Stipe Mesic said.

Milosevic was born in Pozarevac, a factory town in central Serbia best known as the home of one of the country's most notorious prisons. His father was a defrocked Orthodox priest and sometime teacher of Russian. His mother was also a teacher. Both parents eventually committed suicide.  In high school, he met his future wife, the daughter of a wartime communist partisan hero. She also was the niece of Davorjanka Paunovic, private secretary and mistress of Josip Broz Tito, the communist guerrilla leader who seized power in Yugoslavia at the end of World War II.  Milosevic graduated from law school in 1964 and joined the Communist Party. The party put him in various business positions, and in 1983 he was appointed director of a major state-run bank. He became friends with several Western figures, including former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and banker David Rockefeller.  He also befriended Ivan Stambolic, who became leader of the Communist Party in Serbia in 1984. Stambolic picked Milosevic for the powerful post of party leader in the capital, Belgrade.  When Stambolic was elevated to Serbia's presidency in 1986, Milosevic succeeded him as Serbian communist boss.  A year later, Stambolic sent Milosevic to Kosovo, where ethnic Serbs were demanding protection from the province's ethnic Albanian majority. During a meeting of local Serb leaders, hundreds of angry Serbs gathered outside and demanded the leadership hear their grievances.  Milosevic faced the crowd and delivered a fiery speech, telling them: "Nobody has the right to beat you."  Those words shattered the myth of ethnic "brotherhood and unity" that had been the slogan of Tito's communist regime - and transformed Milosevic into a Serb hero.  Months later, in September 1987, he publicly accused his old friend Stambolic and others of anti-communist and anti-Serbian policies during a party meeting televised live nationwide. All were forced to resign in a de facto coup.  In 1989, Milosevic became president of Serbia in an election widely considered rigged. His rise alarmed the other peoples of the Yugoslav federation - Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians, Albanians and others.  In 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Milosevic sent tanks to Slovenian borders, triggering a brief war that ended in Slovenia's secession.  But ethnic Serbs in Croatia, encouraged by Milosevic, took up arms. Milosevic responded by sending the Serb-led Yugoslav army to intervene, triggering a conflict that killed at least 10,000 people.  Three months later, Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence. Milosevic bankrolled a Bosnian Serb rebellion, triggering a worse war that killed an estimated 200,000 people before a U.S.-brokered peace agreement was reached at Dayton, Ohio, in 1995.  Milosevic's term as Serbian president ended in 1997 and the constitution prevented him from running again. However, he exploited legal loopholes to have parliament name him president of Yugoslavia, which by then included only the republics of Serbia and Montenegro.  It was Kosovo, his old springboard to power, that finally set the stage for his downfall.  In February 1998, Milosevic sent troops to crush an ethnic Albanian uprising there, drawing sanctions from the United States and its allies. In 1999, after Milosevic refused to sign a Western-dictated peace accord, NATO conducted 78 days of air strikes on Yugoslavia.  Before Milosevic gave in and handed over the province's administration to the United Nations in June 1999, the U.N. tribunal charged him and four top aides with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo. It later broadened the charges to include genocide.  Milosevic sought to hold on to power by pushing through a constitutional change in July 2000 to permit the election of president by popular vote rather than parliament. But he had misjudged his popularity, and Yugoslavs exhausted by years of war and upheaval backed Kostunica in the election.  The Milosevic-controlled election commission tried to force a runoff, but hundreds of thousands of people converged on Belgrade, setting off a daylong riot on Oct. 5, 2000. The police and army refused to intervene, and Milosevic conceded defeat the following day.  He remained sequestered in an opulent villa in Belgrade until his arrest in April 2001. He was extradited to The Hague that June.

The death of Milosevic HA-11-3-06, so soon after the death of Milan Babic HA-5-3-06, indicates that there is an organized plot to murder the defendants of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Judge Patrick Robinsons’ HA-11-6-05, who was recommended to serve on the US Supreme Court whereas misinformation of their news service falsely represented him as being from the US although he is now reported to be from Jamaica.  Judge Meron is from the USA.  Denial of medical treatment inclines one to believe that the tribunal poisoned him.  The Tribunal, like so many other prisons, is too corrupted by slavery to entertain the counsel for defense and instead conspires to commit crimes with the “enemies” of the friends of freedom and civil justice.  They are most likely involved in the US President’s small military operations units for embassies that have been installed since 2004 and recently reported by the New York Times and in Afghanistan & Iraq v. USA HA-2-11-04.  The International Criminal Tribunal was misconceived from the opening of its prison and needs to be shut down immediately.  The judges, jailers and prosecutors are not very believable, must be punished, all their civil litigants settled and the prisoners should all be released to supervised parole and work programs in the countries of their choice by the Human Rights Commission. 

It is recommended to continue the transfer of presidential judgeship of the Tribunal to a Serbian & Montenegrin Judge with the Mandate to remove the “Criminal” from the International Tribunal from the Former Yugoslavia.

Sanders, Tony J. Hospitals & Asylums.  International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. HA-25-12-04.