United Nations war crimes defendant claims to drink poison in court

02 December, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Slobodan Praljak Bosnian Croat war criminal drank poison in court after hearing verdict

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

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.

A former Bosnian Croat general convicted of war crimes in a United Nations tribunal has died from drinking poison after his sentence of 20 years was upheld.

Former military commander Slobodan Praljak, 72, died in a hospital in The Hague not long after drinking the poison.

After hearing the verdict, Praljak said he rejected the ruling, insisting that he was not a war criminal.

"I have taken poison", he said.

"I am not a war criminal!"

Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday that Praljak was "obviously shaken by the possibility he would be convicted" of war crimes.

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Presiding Judge Carmel Aguis quickly suspended the hearing while Dutch emergency services were called to the scene.

Praljak's condition, and whether he actually drank poison, are unknown.

"During the public pronouncement of the appeal judgment the appeals chamber confirmed his conviction and affirmed Mr Praljak's sentence of 20 years of imprisonment".

"The judge then paused the proceedings and ordered the glass [from which Praljak drank] not be taken from court".

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

The crimes Praljak were convicted for stem from the destruction of a 16th century bridge in November of 1993, which the judges said "caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population".

A wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces has died after poisoning himself on live television in the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

Independent reported Praljak was originally sentenced in 2013 for his involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

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