Bosnian Croat war criminal dies after drinking poison in UN courtroom
The hague: Ex-general Slobodan Praljak had just been jailed for 20 years
A former Bosnian Croat general died in a Dutch hospital yesterday shortly after drinking a liquid in a courtroom where judges had just confirmed his 20-year sentence for war crimes.
Slobodan Praljak, 72, claimed to have drunk poison from a bottle shortly after appeal judges confirmed his jail term for involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat ministate in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
Nenad Golcevski, a spokesman for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said: “Mr Praljak drank a liquid while in court and quickly fell ill.
“The ICTY medical staff immediately assisted Mr Praljak.
“Simultaneously, an ambulance was summoned. Mr Praljak was transported to a nearby hospital to receive further medical assistance, where he passed.”
The drama unfolded as judges were ruling on appeals for six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders – the court’s final verdict for war crimes committed during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Praljak was charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar’s 16th Century bridge in November 1993.
Judges in the first trial said the action had “caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population”.
Part of Praljak’s appeal was upheld as judged ruled the crossing had been a legitimate military target.
They also overturned some of convictions, but did not reduce overall sentence.
Yesterday’s proceedings came a week after the judges imposed a life sentence on the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, who became known as the “Butcher of Bosnia”.
Commenting on the incident, Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic told reporters that Praljak’s action reflects the “deep moral injustice” done to six Bosnian Croats whose guilty verdicts were upheld by the UN’s war crimes court in the Hague. his his
Slobodan Praljak drinks from a small bottle. Shortly after, he died in hospital.