War crimes suspect Slobodan Praljak, who had claimed to have drank poison during the verdict of his final appeals case in a court in The Hague, has died.
Praljak was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders in the courtroom in The Hague to receive their final appeals judgement from the Yugoslav Tribunal. He had been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in 2013 for crimes in East Mostar.
After his sentence was upheld, Praljak had stood and angrily told presiding judge Carmel Agius: “Praljak is not a criminal. I reject your verdict.”
The 72-year-old then raised a small brown 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.”
Agius immediately ordered the proceedings be suspended and the curtains screening the courtroom were abruptly closed to the public. Within minutes, an ambulance arrived outside the tribunal.
The Croatian prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, confirmed Praljak’s death after it was initially reported on Croatian state TV, saying: “we have all unfortunately witnessed his act by which he took his own life.”
He offered his condolences to the family. The courtroom has been declared a crime scene by Dutch police.