Praljak trial: Bosnian Croat war criminal 'takes poison' in court

Prajlak Bosnian Croat drama lover turned war criminal
Prajlak Bosnian Croat drama lover turned war criminal
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03 December, 2017

"I have taken poison", a female interpreter can then be heard saying in English.

A Serbian lawyer who has frequently defended suspects at the United Nations war crimes court in the Netherlands told The Associated Press it would be easy to slip poison into the court.

After a judge confirmed a 20-year jail sentence for crimes against humanity, Slobodan Praljak, 72, stood up, raised his hand to his mouth and tipped his head back, swallowing something from a small glass, the BBC reported.

The other defendants in the criminal case are the former prime minister of Herzeg-Bosnia (which ceased to exist upon the end of the Bosnian war and the conclusion of the Dayton Agreement in 1995) Jadranko Prlic, former member of the Herzeg-Bosnia leadership Berislav Pusic, former chief inspector of the Croatian army Milivoj Petkovic, former chief of the military police of the Croat Defense Council Valentin Coric and former Defense Minister Bruno Stoic.

Presiding Judge Carmel Agius had overturned some of Praljak's convictions but upheld others and left his sentence unchanged. Praljak, who remains standing, begins to shout: "Judges, Slobodan Praljak is not a criminal".

The conflict mainly saw Bosnian Muslims fighting Bosnian Serbs, but there were also deadly clashes involving Bosnian Muslims and Croats after an alliance fell apart.

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An ambulance could later be seen arriving outside the tribunal while a helicopter hovered above the scene. "I oppose this conviction".

In statements sure to anger Zagreb, the judges also upheld the original finding that they had been part of a joint criminal enterprise whose "ultimate goal was shared" by late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, and other leaders.

Wednesday's verdict comes a week after the judges imposed a life sentence on former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic. It has indicted 161 suspects, of which 90 have been convicted.

Commenting on the apparent suicide, Tudjman's son, Miroslav, said Praljak's gesture was a "consequence of his moral position not to accept the verdict that has nothing to do with justice or reality".

Among Praljak's charges was the destruction of the iconic 16th-century bridge in the Bosnian city of Mostar in November 1993, which was eventually rebuilt in 2004 but at the time "caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population", the judges noted in the 2013 verdict.

Terms ranging from 10 to 20 years were also upheld against the four other defendants. The six surrendered with Croatia under pressure to comply with the court in return for joining the European Union.


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