War criminal Slobodan Praljak dies after drinking poison in court


A wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces said on Wednesday he "drank poison" seconds after United Nations appeals judges upheld his 20-year sentence for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic later confirmed that Praljak had died, saying in a government tweet, "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". During the hearing after he learned that his sentence would be upheld, he lifted a vial to his lips and drank the contents, announcing, "I have taken poison".

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2013 for war crimes in the city of Mostar.

Praljak's case was one of the last to be decided at a tribunal for ethnic war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, the worst outbreak of violence in Europe since the end of World War II. "I oppose this conviction".

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Croatian state TV later reported that Praljak had died.

After Praljak drank the poison, presiding judge Carmel Agius immediately suspended the proceedings and an ambulance was called. If tests confirm the liquid was poison, officials will likely face questions about how Praljak managed to smuggle it into the courtroom.

Praljak was convicted for his actions between 1992 and 1994, including the rape and murder of Bosnian Muslims in the wake of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia.

Praljak had been convicted of being involved in a campaign by Croat forces to persecute Bosnian Muslims to carve out a Croat ministate.

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