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Bosnian Croat leader Slobodan Praljak dies after drinking poison in UN war crimes court

Bosnian Croat minister of defense during the Balkans wars

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Bosnian Croat ex-General Slobodan Praljak drank poison after the Hague war crimes tribunal upheld his 2013 war crimes sentence. Croatia's prime minister has criticized the court for its "unjust" verdict, reports DW

Shades of Nuremberg? Convicted war criminal Slobodan Praljak, the Bosnian Croat minister of defense during the Balkans wars, decided to cheat the hangman — or at least the jailer. After having his conviction and 20-year sentence upheld by The Hague, Praljak took a swig from a bottle and announced that he’d just taken poison. The court hastily adjourned while paramedics were called, but to little avail:

Bosnian Croat ex-General Slobodan Praljak died Wednesday evening after drinking poison at a UN court hearing in The Hague.

"One of the six defendants ... passed away today in the HMC hospital in The Hague," said court spokesman Nenad Golcevski.

Earlier, judges part of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)  had rejected the 72-year-old's appeal against his 20-year prison sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Upon hearing the verdict, Praljak yelled: "Judges, Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. I reject the verdict with contempt." He then drank from a small glass bottle and told the courtroom: "What I drank was poison."

The presiding judge called for medical assistance and ordered the session to be closed to the public.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has described the verdict as "unjust" and offered his condolences to Praljak's family.

 

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