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United Nations war crimes defendant claims to have taken poison in court
03 December 2017, 12:48 | Sherry Padilla
Yugoslavian war criminal 'takes poison' to end hearing at UN court
Presiding judge Carmel Agius immediately suspended the proceedings and an ambulance was called.
While the sentence was being read out, Praljak stood up and said: "Judges, Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal!".
A spokesman for the tribunal, Nenad Golcevski, when asked by the Associated Press if he could confirm the death, said: "I have no information to share at this point".
The 72-year-old former commander of the Bosnian forces during the 1992 to 1995 conflict was one of six military and political officials receiving appeal sentences Wednesday, which was due to be the last session of the global tribunal set up by the United Nations in 1993 with the motto "bringing war criminals to justice and justice to the victims".
A flustered judge halted the hearing and Praljak was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died.
Though allies against the Bosnian Serbs in the 1992-95 war, Bosnian Croats and Muslims also fought each other for a period of 11 months, with Mostar seeing some of the fiercest fighting.
Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic slammed the "injustice" of the United Nations tribunal and expressed his condolences.
Reporters on the scene said a helicopter could be heard overhead and paramedics with backpacks could be seen entering the chamber of the court.
Reuters reported a Croatian general telling local media he spoke to the wife of one of the defendants, who confirmed Praljak drank poison and was in a serious condition.
The Yugoslav army targeted Bosnian Muslims and Croats in a brutal conflict that killed more than 100,000 people.
The prison terms for Prlic (25 years) and Stoic and Praljak (20 years each) remained unchanged.
A Bosnian Croat convicted war criminal has taken poison, according to his lawyer, during the reading of his verdict at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. It has indicted 161 suspects, of which 90 have been convicted.
The original conviction said that late-Croat President Franjo Tudjman was a key member of a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.
Praljak was also said to have inflicted cruel treatment on Bosnian Muslims, by arranging for their expulsion and forced transfer and by submitting those imprisoned to forced labour.
The ICTY charged Prlic and his co-defendants in 2004.
The tribunal, which last week convicted the former Bosnian Serb military chief General Ratko Mladić of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993 while fighting was ongoing in the former Yugoslavia.
He was originally sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2013. The six surrendered with Croatia under pressure to comply with the court in return for joining the European Union.
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