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By Nicola Leske
The Hague: Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who wanted to go to Russia for medical treatment, took drugs that worsened his health before dying in his prison cell, a Dutch medical expert said on Monday.
Groningen University toxicologist Donald Uges said he thought Milosevic, whose body was released for burial after an autopsy and toxicology tests, had taken the drugs to improve his case for going to Russia, to be with his wife and son.
Milosevic, 64, who suffered from a heart condition and high blood pressure and was found dead in bed in his cell on Saturday, faced a possible life sentence for his war crimes in his trial at the Hague tribunal.
"I don't think he took his medicines for suicide - only for his trip to Moscow... that is where his friends and family are. I think that was his last possibility to escape The Hague," Uges said. "I am also sure there is no murder."
Tests showed traces of rifampicin - a drug against leprosy and tuberculosis that would neutralise other medicines.
Milosevic's widow, brother and son all live in Russia. His wife Mira Markovic risks arrest if she returns to Serbia. His lawyer said Milosevic feared he was being poisoned and wrote to Russia the day before he died asking for help.
The man branded the "Butcher of the Balkans" had been on trial for four years on charges on 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes involving conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo that tore Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s.
The autopsy on Milosevic was conducted by Dutch scientists and attended by Serbian pathologists.
Former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic committed suicide at the detention centre last week.
Milosevic's lawyer said on Sunday his client had written to Russia asking for help a day before his death as he believed he had been given the wrong drugs - including some for leprosy and tuberculosis - in a bid to silence him.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Monday it had received the letter and said Milosevic's brother Borislav had asked a group of Russian doctors to fly to the Hague to take part in the autopsy.
The Dutch pathologists said Milosevic died of a "myocardial infarction" that could be explained by two heart conditions he suffered from.
A myocardial infarction is usually caused by a blockage in one of the coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart.
He was at risk of a hypertensive emergency, when surges in blood pressure can damage the heart, kidneys and central nervous system.