Former Bosnian Croat military leader dies after taking poison in war crimes hearing

By bne IntelliNews November 29, 2017

A former Bosnian Croat leader who has been sentenced to 20 years in jail by the war crimes tribunal at The Hague is reported to have died after taking poison in the courtroom on November 29. 

Slobodan Praljak, former commander of Bosnian Croat forces in the 1992-1995 bloody Bosnian war was sentenced to 20 years in jail for war crimes. On hearing the verdict, stood up yelling “Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. I reject the verdict with contempt!” and drank from a small cup after his sentence was confirmed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Judge Carmel Agius then suspended the appeal hearing of six Bosnian Croat war criminals. Subsequently, the hearing was resumed and all verdicts have been confirmed.

Praljak had been indicted for ordering the destruction of a 16th century bridge in the town of Mostar in 1993 and the judge confirmed his verdict at the November 29 hearing. After the hearing was suspended, he was taken to hospital. It was not immediately clear whether Praljak has actually taken poison, but reported that doctors had to resuscitate him and that he died several hours after being taken to hospital.

Besides Praljak, the court was hearing other five defendants, including Bosnian Croat leader Jadranko Prlic, who appealed his 25-year term imposed by the court in The Hague, and four others, whose sentences vary between 10 and 20 years.

Earlier this month, the tribunal sentenced general Ratko Mladic, known as the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, to life in jail for genocide in Srebrenica.

Mladic was indicted on two counts of genocide – across Bosnia & Herzegovina and in Srebrenica, five counts of crimes against humanity and four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war in the most significant war crimes trial in Europe since the Nuremberg tribunal. On November 22, judges found him guilty of all charges except genocide across Bosnia.

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