Bosnian Croat war crimes suspect 'drinks poison' during trial at The Hague

Slobodan Prljak one of six former political and military leaders to have sentences upheld

Tom Embury-Dennis
Wednesday 29 November 2017 11:51
Slobodan Praljak brings a bottle to his lips during a Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, after shouting: ‘I am not a war criminal’
Slobodan Praljak brings a bottle to his lips during a Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, after shouting: ‘I am not a war criminal’

A UN court has suspended an appeals hearing after a Bosnian Croat wartime commander claimed to have drunk poison.

A court spokesperson said Slobodan Praljak was still alive and is being treated.

Praljak is one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders who were appealing their sentences in The Hague.

The 72-year-old tilted back his head and took a swing from a flask or glass as the judge read out that his 20-year prison sentence had been upheld.

Emergency Services staff run toward The Hague after Slobodan Praljak apparently drank poison

"Judges, I am not a war criminal, I reject the verdict with contempt," he said after drinking. The presiding judge called for a doctor and halted the proceedings.

Praljak was originally sentenced in 2013 for his involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

Presiding Judge Carmel Agius had overturned some of Praljak's convictions but left his sentence unchanged.

It could not immediately be confirmed whether Praljak had taken poison or the status of his health.

Wednesday's hearing was the final case at the groundbreaking tribunal before it closes its doors next month.

The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief General 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.

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.

Two other suspects had also had their sentences upheld before the hearing was halted.

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