Yugoslavian war criminal 'takes poison' to end hearing at United Nations court

  • Yugoslavian war criminal 'takes poison' to end hearing at United Nations court

Yugoslavian war criminal 'takes poison' to end hearing at United Nations court

Slobodan Praljak, a commander of Bosnian Croat forces during the Bosnian War has died after drinking a phial of poison while standing in the dock at a United Nations tribunal in The Hague, where his war crimes sentence of 20 years was upheld.

The 72-year-old tilted back his head and took a swing from a flask or glass as the judge read out that his 20-year prison sentence had been upheld.

The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief General Ratko Mladic of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993, while fighting still raged in the former Yugoslavia.

Slobodan Praljak was appealing his 20-year sentence for war crimes in the Bosnian civil war in the early 1990s.

The judge was then heard immediately suspending proceedings and asking for the curtains to be drawn.

"In accordance with standard procedures, at the request of the ICTY, the Dutch authorities have initiated an independent investigation which is now ongoing".

Croatia's state-run TV service later said he died in hospital in the Netherlands, a statement which was later confirmed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who offered condolences to his family.

"His act, which we all unfortunately witnessed today, speaks most of a deep moral injustice towards six indicted Croats from Bosnia and the Croatian people", Plenkovic said. "We voice dissatisfaction and regret about the verdict".

Slobodan Praljak, a wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces, has died by suicide, as reported by AP.

The court ruled that Praljak was aware that soldiers were rounding up Muslims in Prozor in the summer of 1993, but he failed to make any serious efforts to stop the action. In fact, he was a Bosnian Croat commander with a militia operating in Bosnia.

He told the judge: "I have taken poison". Nearly immediately, the session is suspended.

When the ambulance arrived outside the tribunal, several emergency workers rushed into the building carrying equipment while a helicopter also hovered overhead.

The presiding Judge Carmel Agius suspended the hearings and paramedics raced to the courtroom, which was declared a crime scene by Dutch authorities.