World News

Slobo is Dead

11 March 2006 at 21:34 | 910 views

Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has been found dead in his cell at the United Nations war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

An official in the chief prosecutor’s office said Milosevic was found lifeless on his bed around 10 a.m. on Saturday.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told reporters Milosevic, 64, died of natural causes. An autopsy is planned, along with an inquiry into the death.

Since February 2002, Milosevic had been on trial for war crimes on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

He suffered a heart condition and high blood pressure, which had repeatedly interrupted his trial. The hearings were entering the final phase, with arguments expected to wrap up within a few months.

His was the second death within a week at the UN detention center in Scheveningen, a suburb of The Hague. Former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, serving 13 years for crimes against humanity, committed suicide in his cell last weekend.

Milosevic led Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic, into four Balkan wars, including the 1992-95 Bosnia war, in which 200,000 people died.

He was accused of overseeing the systematic killing of about 8,000 men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995, the worst massacre on European soil since the Second World War.

Former U.S. secretary of state and envoy to the Balkans Richard Holbrook led negotiations to end the Balkan wars. The deal led to NATO deploying 60,000 peacekeepers to keep the Bosnian, Serb and Croatian armies apart.

Holbrook said Milosevic is one of the worst leaders the world has ever seen. "This man wrecked the Balkans. He was a war criminal who caused four wars, over 300,000 deaths, 2.5 million homeless."

Photo: Slobodan Milosevic, earthly trial over.