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War criminal ‘drinks poison’ during trial at The Hague, dies

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Former Bosnian-Croat general was charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar’s 16th-century bridge in 1993

A former Bosnian Croat general has died after drinking a phial of poison at a UN tribunal in The Hague today, UN officials have confirmed.

72-year-old Slobodan Praljak was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders who was appealing his sentence in The Hague for the alleged involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

Praljak was charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar’s 16th-century bridge in November 1993, which reportedly “caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population”.

Seconds after his war crimes sentence of 20 years was upheld at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Praljak was caught on TV shouting in a dramatic manner: “Praljak is not a criminal. I reject your verdict.”

Praljak then raised a small bottle to his lips, and drank it in full view of the cameras filming the hearing. “I just drank poison,” he said. “I am not a war criminal. I oppose this conviction.”

Within minutes, an ambulance arrived outside the tribunal but he could not be saved.

Dutch police have now declared the same courtroom a crime scene, the presiding judge said.



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