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

Casey Dawson
December 2, 2017

He was one of six former Bosnian Croat leaders found guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the rape and murder of Bosnian Muslims, in 2013.

Reports say the suspect while in court drank from a small bottle, upon hearing that his 20-year jail sentence had been upheld by the court declaring: "What I am drinking now is poison".

Moments after the United Nations appeals judges upheld his 20-year sentence for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims, Mr Praljak openly said in court that he "drank poison".

Maltese judge Carmel Agius witnessed a shocking scene at the International Court of Justice today, as a convicted Bosnian war criminal drank a phial of poison and died upon hearing his verdict.

He told the judge: "I have taken poison".

"I am not a war criminal!"

In the clip, former commander Slobodan Praljak is told that he could be seated.

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P-8A Poseidon aircraft on November 25, flying as close as 50 feet, and turned on its afterburners, Lt. A Su-30 fighter jet identified it as an American reconnaissance aircraft, P8-A Poseidon, it said.

The courtroom devolved into chaos and Agius briefly suspended the proceedings. Sometime later, Praljak alerts the courtroom that what he drank was poison.

Besides Praljak, who was was specifically charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar's 16th-century bridge in November 1993, the other five defendants included Bosnian Croat leader Jadranko Prlic, who appealed his 25-year term imposed by the court in The Hague, and four others, who are also appealing long prison sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years.

Although they were allies against the Bosnian Serbs in the Bosnian War of 1992 - 1995, Bosnian Croats and Muslims were also in conflict for nearly a year, with Mostar seeing some of the bloodiest conflict as the country of Yugoslavia messily divided.

The original conviction said that late-Croat President Franjo Tudjman was a key member of a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.

Wednesday's hearing is the final case to be completed at the tribunal before it closes its doors next month.

The ICTY, established in 1993 by the UN Security Council, indicted 161 war crimes suspects from Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.

Last week the tribunal sentenced Gen. Ratko Mladic, the ethnic Serb "Butcher of the Balkans" to life in prison for genocide against Bosnian Muslims.

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