Former Bosnian Croat military leader Slobodan Praljak died on Wednesday after apparently swallowing poison during his judgement at the UN war crimes court to protest the upholding of a 20-year jail term.
The UN war crimes court for former Yugoslavia descended into chaos during it last judgement on Wednesday. Shortly after, state media reported that Praljak died.
UN judges were handing down judgement in the appeals case of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders, in the court’s final verdict for war crimes committed during the bloody 1990s break-up of Yugoslavia.
Seconds after his sentence was upheld, former military commander Slobodan Praljak, 72, shouted out angrily: “Praljak is not a criminal. I reject your verdict.”
He then raised a small brown bottle to his lips, and drank it down in full view of the cameras filming the hearing.
The unprecedented scenes came just after the judges also upheld a 25-year prison term against Jadranko Prlic, the former prime minister of a breakaway Bosnian Croat statelet, and a 20-year term for its former defence minister Bruno Stojic.
But the hearing was then quickly suspended as Praljak’s lawyer shouted out: “My client says he has taken poison.”