War criminal Slobodan Praljak dies after drinking poison in court

Dec 01, 2017, 01:36
War criminal Slobodan Praljak dies after drinking poison in court

Slobodan Praljak, 72, a former commander in Bosnia's 1992-95 war, drank from a small bottle or glass and yelled "I am not a war criminal" moments after judges at the worldwide criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia confirmed his 20-year sentence on appeal on Wednesday.

Praljak, 72, is one of six Croatian politicians sentenced to jail for their involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

Former war correspondent Martin Bell - who covered the Bosnian war and met Praljak on several occasions - told Sky News he was not surprised by his "theatrical" demise. Croatian state TV later reported that Praljak had died.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also confirmed the death and offered condolences to his family, the Associated Press reported.

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 generally are released after serving two-thirds of their sentences.

Slobodan Praljak brings a bottle to his lips, during a Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

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Bosnian Croats and Muslims were allies against the Serbs but fought each other for 11 months from 1993-1994.

War Crimes Croatia
Praljak brings a bottle to his lips during a Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague

"I have taken poison", he said.

AdQsDopZfS4At that, Carmel Agius, the presiding Judge, immediately suspended the proceedings and an ambulance was called.

They were attending the final appeals judgment to be handed down by the court. "We suspend the. We suspend. Please, the curtains. Don't take away the glass that he used when he drank something", Agius said. "We voice dissatisfaction and regret about the verdict".

According to the BBC, he had failed to make serious efforts to stop soldiers from rounding up Muslims in Prozor and failed to act on information about murders and attacks on people and property in East Mostar during the war.

Those appearing with him included Jadranko Prlic, the former prime minister of the Bosnian Croats' breakaway statelet.

The trial was part of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was set up in 1993 on mandate from the UN Security Council and which will see its mandate expire at the end of the year.

The ICTY said in an official report that Milosevic died of natural causes and that it had found no evidence of poisoning or suicide.

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