War criminal Slobodan Praljak dies after drinking poison in court

Saul Bowman
December 2, 2017

As Slobodan Praljak listened to his sentence of 20 years, he raised a small bottle to his lips in full view of the camera crew and shouted, "I am not a war criminal, I reject the verdict with contempt!"

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

"We have all unfortunately witnessed his act by which he took his own life", Mr Plenković told reporters, adding that Praljak's action reflected the "deep moral injustice" done to six Bosnian Croats whose guilty verdicts were upheld by the United Nations war... Of the 83 convicted, more than 60 of them were ethnic Serbs.

"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.

"I am not a war criminal!"

Judge Carmel Agius, who had urged the defendant to sit down, put a halt to the hearing as calls were made for an ambulance.

Praljak's conviction was part of the last ruling from an appeals case in the U.N.'s war crimes court for six former Bosnian Croat leaders over war crimes during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Praljak was specifically charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar's 16th-century bridge in November 1993, which judges said "caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population".

He reportedly participated in the establishment and expansion of concentration camps and other detention centres.

"Slobodan Praljak had his first instance verdict confirmed in which he was sentenced to 20 year in prison".

The U.N. hearing for the other suspects was suspended but resumed later Wednesday in a different room.

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

Gen. Ratko Mladic, known as the "Butcher of Bosnia", was convicted last week of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and given a life sentence.

The appeals judges upheld a key finding that late Croat president Franjo Tudjman was a member of a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.

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