A bit of a controversy is brewing over the causes of the death of Slobodan Milošević. While it is far from rare, given a combination of preexisting conditions, stress, and unhealthy habits, that a person's health should fail, much is being made of the fact that Mr Milošević should have passed just at the time that his trial was (or, possibly, was not) nearing the end of oral presentations of evidence. So his death has given rise to a number of conspiracy theories. None of these are based on anything like reliable evidence, and some of them may be products of how the various conspiracy theorists think the trial was going.
The people who believe that the prosecution was well on the way to a conviction (most prominent among them, the prosecutor) have raised the possibility that the accused may have committed suicide. There are two versions of the story in the rumours: one is that he refused the medication he was given for high blood pressure, as suggested by the Russian physician with whom he consulted, Dr Leo Bokeria. Another is that he may have been (surreptitiously) taking another medication to counteract the effects of the blood pressure medication which was prescribed to him, which is being suggested (we do not know yet on the basis of what source) by the journalist Heikelina Verrijn Stuart. The center of the controversy is around an unconfirmed report from an anonymous source, claiming that an unspecified drug used to treat leprosy had been found in Mr Milošević's blood.
If the report of an unspecified drug is true, Mr Milošević's supporters have their own version of the story of how it got there. His legal counselor Zdenko Tomanović told reporters that Mr Milošević had written to Russian diplomats the day before his death, mentioning a mysterious drug and raising suspicions that his doctors may have been poisoning him. So in this version (promoted by people who believe that the prosecution's case had been going badly), he was killed by poison, presumably either to silence him or to avoid an acquittal.
Conspiracy theories are productive! So choose your version, was he poisoned, and if so by whom? Did he gamble with his health and lose? Did he commit suicide and invent a poisoning cover story? Was somebody else poisoning him? There is enough material for a soap opera to continue into several installments here, and as yet none of the reports of strange drugs having been found are confirmed.
There are clear advantages to the Milošević camp in continuing to level charges against the medical and prison staff engaged by ICTY, and of course it is entirely possible that some charges are valid and some are not. If it is the case that Mr Milošević was refusing medication, the consequences of this are entirely his own doing. If it turns out that somebody not on the medical staff was bringing him drugs, this complicates the story, but still hardly reflects well on the management of the ICTY detention facility.
Then there is the whole appalling symbolic framework: Mr Milošević built his political movement on the ideological trade in dead bodies from the past, now he has become a commodity in that trade. This discussion develops three years to the day after the death of Zoran Đinđić, who was indisputably murdered, we know by whom and for whom.