Bosnian Croat convicted for war crimes dies after taking poison in court

Violet Powell
December 2, 2017

"Don't take away the glass", Agius said, instructing the guards to lower blinds and block a glass-partition separating the court from the public.

Agius, a former judge at the Maltese courts and United Nations representative of the government, was elected to the role of president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 2015.

Croatian state TV said Slobodan Praljak, 72, a former commander in Bosnia's 1992-95 war, appeared to drink from a small bottle moments after judges at the worldwide criminal tribunal in The Hague reconfirmed a 20-year sentence.

The UN war crimes tribunal is handing down its last judgment in an appeal by six Bosnian Croatian political and military leaders who were convicted in 2013 of persecuting, expelling and murdering Muslims during Bosnia's war. "I am not a war criminal".

Praljak was trying to appeal a twenty-year sentence for crimes during the Bosnian War.

Praljak, 72, was filmed drinking the poison Wednesday.

Within minutes, an ambulance arrived outside the tribunal, while a helicopter hovered overhead.

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The Yugoslav army targeted Bosnian Muslims and Croats in a brutal conflict that killed more than 100,000 people.

It could not immediately be confirmed whether Praljak had taken poison, but a court spokesman said he was alive and receiving medical attention.

Praljak, a former assistant defense minister of Croatia and commander of the Croatian Defense Council, was appealing a jail term of 20 years in prison.

The UN war tribunal found that despite his being informed of what was happening, Praljak failed to make serious efforts to stop soldiers from rounding up Muslims in Prozor in the summer of 1993. He was also blamed for ordering the destruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar, an ancient monument of Islamic heritage in Bosnia.

The presiding judge Carmel Agius had overturned some of Praljak's convictions but left his sentence unchanged.

Those appearing alongside Praljak in the court included Jadranko Prlic, the former prime minister of the Bosnian Croats' breakaway statelet, and its former defence minister Bruno Stojic.

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