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Milosevic's body to be released to his family

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THE HAGUE, Mar 13 (Reuters) Slobodan Milosevic's body will be released to his family today, while experts try to establish whether his death from a heart attack months before a verdict in his war crimes trial was due to natural causes.

It was not immediately clear where the body of the man branded the ''Butcher of the Balkans'' over the conflicts in the 1990s would go- his widow lives in Russia and faces arrest in Serbia - or where the burial or cremation would take place.

A preliminary autopsy report yesterday showed the 64-year-old former Yugoslav president died of a heart attack but speculation continued over whether he might have killed himself to thwart an impending verdict in his four-year-old trial.

Milosevic's lawyer said he feared he was being poisoned.

The autopsy on the body of Milosevic, who suffered from a heart condition and high blood pressure, was conducted by Dutch scientists and attended by Serbian pathologists. Serbia said the autopsy was very professional. The whole procedure was filmed.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. tribunal said it was too early to say whether the heart attack might have been caused by poisoning or whether suicide could be ruled out, noting that an inquiry ordered by court president Fausto Pocar was continuing.

Former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic committed suicide at the detention centre last week.

Milosevic, found dead in bed in his cell on Saturday, faced a possible life sentence over charges on 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes involving conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo as Yugoslavia imploded in the 1990s.

TOXICOLOGICAL TESTS The pathologists said Milosevic died of a ''myocardial infarction'' that could be explained by two heart conditions he suffered from, the U.N. tribunal said.

A myocardial infarction is usually caused by a blockage in one of the coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart.

''A toxicological examination will still be carried out,'' the court said. The tribunal spokeswoman said the final report on Milosevic's death may take more than a day.

MORE REUTERS SB PM1536

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