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Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic died last night of apparent natural causes in his cell at a UN detention center in Amsterdam. The AP reports that the subject of the often-delayed war crimes trial died of natural causes:
Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader who orchestrated the Balkan wars of the 1990s and was on trial for war crimes, was found dead in his prison cell near The Hague, the U.N. tribunal said Saturday.
Milosevic, 64, apparently died of natural causes, a tribunal press officer said. He was found dead in his bed at the U.N. detention center.
Milosevic has been on trial since February 2002, defending himself against 66 counts of crimes, including genocide, in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
The trial repeatedly was interrupted by Milosevic's poor health and chronic heart condition. It was recessed last week until Tuesday to await his next defense witness.
His death comes less than a week after the star witness in his trial, former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, was found dead in the same prison. Babic, who was serving a 13-year prison sentence, committed suicide. He testified against Milosevic in 2002.
Milosevic's death cheated the Hague, which had hoped to finally convict the former leader of Yugoslavia of various war crimes. The numerous delays in the trial, which had just "celebrated" its fourth year in progress, had been prompted by suspicious health complaints. It looks like either Milosevic and his doctors told the truth, or perhaps the lies just caught up with him.
The strange, chameleon-like Serbian demagogue had managed to survive and even thrive during one of the weirdest political careers in history. He started four wars, and lost them all, but the Serbians simply could not get enough of Milosevic. Even with the evidence of his genocidal tactics coming to the fore, he almost won a final term in office -- and when he briefly attempted to retain his office by force, his popularity did not entirely diminish. After holing up in Serbia for six month, he finally was arrested and placed in UN custody to face criminal charges almost five years ago. The trial itself became a farce, far worse than the oft-criticized Saddam Hussein trial, as Milosevic attempted to subpoena leaders like Bill Clinton for testimony.
In the end, he beat the Hague and the UN in the limited arena left to him. He stalled the trial long enough to die before its completion and made the Hague look like incompetents and fools. Like all sociopaths, he wanted to control as much as possible right to the very end -- and unfortunately, he succeeded.Sphere It View blog reactions
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