(SL) – Slobodan Pralijack was one of six Bosnian Croat political and military leaders up before the court. The 72 year old took a swig from a small container or glass as United Nation Judges announced that his appeal of a 20-year sentence for war crimes had been denied.
Pralijack drank the poison in the courtroom and died. “Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. I am rejecting your verdict with contempt,” Praljak shouted before swallowing the liquid.
The judge was then heard immediately suspending proceedings and asking for the curtains to be drawn. An ambulance was at the building shortly and paramedics raced up to the courtroom, Reuters reported
Praljak, a former assistant defense minister of Croatia and commander of the Croatian Defense Council was convicted of offenses which date to between 1992 and 1994 and came as part of a wider conflict that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
He along with others was accused of trying to “ethnically cleanse” non-Croats from areas of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian Croat leadership, along with Croat leaders, wanted to make this territory part of a “Greater Croatia,” the ICTY said when the case first went through the court.
The courtroom was being treated as a crime scene, an ICTY spokesperson told CNN.
Croatia’s Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, later confirmed the former general had died and offered his condolences.
“On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and on my own behalf, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family of General Slobodan Praljak,” Plenkovic said, according to a tweet from an official government account.