Convicted war criminal dies after drinking poison during tribunal at The Hague

A Bosnian Croat wartime commander has died after drinking poison during an appeals hearing at a UN court, Croatian state television has reported.

Slobodan Praljak, one of six former political and military leaders who were appealing their sentences in The Hague, died in a local hospital, sources said.

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. “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.

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

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

It indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.

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