Bosnian Croat convicted for war crimes dies after taking poison in court

Bosnian Croat convicted for war crimes dies after taking poison in court

Praljak was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders due to hear their appeal verdicts on Wednesday.

Slobodan Praljak, a former military commander convicted of persecuting and murdering Muslims during the Bosnian War in the '90s, died a few hours drinking the poison, according to Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenković.

Appeals judges upheld his 20-year sentence for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims during the war in the Balkans in the 1990s, prompting Praljak to stand up and address the court in The Hague, Netherlands.

He yelled "I am not a war criminal" while his lawyer shouted: "My client says he has taken poison".

"On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and on my own behalf, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family of General Slobodan Praljak", Plenkovic said, according to a tweet from an official government account. "I am not a war criminal".

"Praljak is not a criminal. I oppose this conviction".

Presiding Judge Carmel Aguis quickly suspended the hearing while Dutch emergency services were called to the scene. Sometime later, Praljak alerts the courtroom that what he drank was poison.

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The former commander of the main staff of the Bosnian Croat defence forces, the United Nations war crimes tribunal ruled that he had failed to make any serious efforts to stop soldier from rounding up Muslims in Prozor in 1993.

Praljak was 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".

The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serbian military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993, while fighting still raged in the former Yugoslavia.

It indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.

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

A reading of the judgement, which was also deciding on charges against five other suspects, resumed more than two hours after Praljak said he had poisoned himself.

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