Croatian war criminal dies after drinking poison in United Nations court

Laura Christensen
December 3, 2017

Praljak's lawyer, Natasa Faveau-Ivanovic, was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying, "My client says he drank poison this morning".

A total of 100,000 people died and 2.2 million were displaced in the three-year war.

Dutch prosecutors are investigating how a Bosnian Croat war criminal managed to dramatically take his own life Wednesday, apparently after drinking poison he had smuggled into a United Nations court, in scenes that were broadcast live.

Praljak was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders due to hear their appeal verdicts on Wednesday.

Slobodan Praljak was asked to stand at the deck as presiding judge Carmel Agius read the verdict.

He shouted, "I am not a war criminal" and told the judge, "I have taken poison".

Though allies against the Bosnian Serbs in the 1992-95 war, Bosnian Croats and Muslims also fought each other for a period of 11 months, with Mostar seeing some of the fiercest fighting.

Moments later ambulance crews arrived at the scene and a helicopter began hovering overhead.

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Ironically, Praljak, who surrendered to the tribunal in April 2004 and had already been jailed for 13 years, could have soon walked free because those who are convicted are generally released after serving two-thirds of their sentences.

Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic said that his country's leadership during the Bosnian war could "in no way be connected with the facts and interpretations" of Wednesday's judgment.

Wednesday's proceeding came a week after the judges imposed a life sentence on former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, whose ruthlessness in the conflict earned him the title of "Butcher of Bosnia".

In statements sure to anger Zagreb, the judges upheld the original trial finding that the men had been part of a joint criminal enterprise whose "ultimate goal was shared" by late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, and other leaders.

It has indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.

Tudjman's son, Miroslav, said Praljak's move was a "consequence of his moral position not to accept the verdict that has nothing to do with justice or reality".

The six Bosnian Croats who unsuccessfully appealed includes former defence minister Jadranko Prlic, whose 25-year sentence for involvement in the campaign to create an ethnically pure state was upheld.

Praljak was specifically charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar's 16th-century bridge in November 1993. The six surrendered with Croatia under pressure to comply with the court in return for joining the European Union.

Other reports by My Hot News

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