In a shocking turn of events that played out on live television, Slobodan Praljak, drank poison in a courtroom and died later on Wednesday, after the convicted war criminal interrupted a courtroom hearing to declare his innocence according to Croatian state media.
Praliak, loudly proclaimed his innocence in front of the International Criminal Tribunal and stated, “Judges, Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal!” “I reject this verdict.”
The presiding judge asked him numerous times to stop and sit down, it was then that Praljak. 72, tilted his head back and downed a vial of liquid. He said, “I just drank poison.”
The hearing was suspended shortly afterward, as the other people in the room sought to make sense of the situation. “Please,” the presiding judge asked, “the curtains.”
Praljak soon fell ill and was quickly ushered from the courtroom by paramedics, though their efforts could not save his life.
“The emergency services took Praljak to a nearby hospital, where he died,” tribunal spokesperson Nenad Golcevski told media, also noting that Dutch police have opened an independent investigation into the incident.
Praljak was one of six men sentenced to prison in 2013 for “crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions,” the tribunal notes.
“The Trial Chamber concluded that, from January 1993, all six accused were participants in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at creating a Croatian entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina that would facilitate the reunification of the Croatian people, through ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population,” The Hague-based organization explains.
The tribunal has held various trials for war crimes from the brutal civil war that took place in the former Yugoslavia. It has indicted 161 former soldiers for war crimes and has convicted 91.
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