A Bosnian Croat war commander has died after drinking poison during his war crimes trial at the UN court in The Hague.
Slobodan Praljak, 72, one of six former political and military leaders who were appealing their sentences in The Hague, died in a local hospital.
Praljak yelled, ‘I am not a war criminal!’ and drank a dark liquid from a small bottle seconds after losing his appeal against a 20-year prison sentence at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
‘I just drank poison,’ he added. ‘I am not a war criminal. I oppose this conviction.’
The apparent courtroom suicide, which was broadcasted, came in the final minutes of the last judgement at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which closes next month.
Confirming his death, Croatia’s prime minister Andrej Plenkovi?, said
“Former head of the chief headquarters of the Croatian Defence Council, General Slobodan Praljak, died in a hospital in The Hague after he drank poison in a courtroom after the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia confirmed his 20-year sentence for war crimes,” Croatian TV reported.
Meanwhile, it’s still not clear how Slobodan obtained the poison, as he was serving his 20-year sentence in an undisclosed UN prison cell and was driven each day to the court in a secure van for his appeal hearing.
Slobodan was sentenced to jail, alongside five other Croatian politicians for their involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s.