War Crimes Defendant Claims To Take Poison In UN Court

War Crimes Defendant Claims To Take Poison In UN Court

War Crimes Defendant Claims To Take Poison In UN Court

A prominent lawyer at the court said he could see how it would be "absolutely possible" to smuggle such an object in.

He said security staff inspect metal objects and confiscate mobile phones - but "pills and small quantities of liquids" could pass under the radar.

It saw a total of 100,000 people killed and 2.2million displaced in the three-year war.

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic slammed the "injustice" of the United Nations tribunal and expressed his condolences.

Praljak stood and raised his hand to his mouth, tipped his head back and appeared to swallow a glass of liquid. It could not immediately be confirmed whether Praljak had taken poison.

The court judge suspended the session, closing off cameras and ordering the container held by Praljak to be retained - presumably as evidence.

Ironically, Praljak, who surrendered to the tribunal in April 2004 and had already been jailed for 13 years, could have soon walked free because those who are convicted are generally released after serving two-thirds of their sentences.

Dutch police declared the courtroom "a crime scene" and say they're investigating.

Slobodan Praljak, 72, was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders up before the court.

The crimes Praljak were convicted for stem from the destruction of a 16th century bridge in November of 1993, which the judges said "caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population".

He reportedly participated in the establishment and expansion of concentration camps and other detention centres.

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".

The remaining three suspects - Milivoj Petkovic, 68, Valentin Coric, 61, and Berislav Pusic, 65 - had their sentences confirmed.

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

Last week, the same tribunal handed former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic a life sentence for his role in the genocide of the Balkan Wars in the 1990s. Of the 161 individuals indicted by the ICTY, the body created specifically to prosecute wartime crimes, 94 are ethnic Serbs, compared to 29 Croats, nine Albanians and nine Bosniaks.

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 objective was shared" by late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, and other leaders.

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