Published: Thu, November 30, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

War crimes defendant opposes conviction, 'drinks poison' in court

War crimes defendant opposes conviction, 'drinks poison' in court

A United Nations war crimes appeal trial was suspended on Wednesday after a former Croatian general claimed to have drank poison upon being sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Praljak tilted back his head and took a swing from a flask or glass as the judge delivered the verdict. During the hearing after he learned that his sentence would be upheld, he lifted a vial to his lips and drank the contents, announcing, "I have taken poison".

Former military commander Slobodan Praljak consumed liquid from a small brown bottle moments after losing his appeal against a 20-year sentence for war crimes committed during the bloody 1990s break-up of Yugoslavia, reports The Guardian. "I oppose this conviction".

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Croatian state TV reported that President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic made a decision to cut short an official visit to Iceland and the government was holding an emergency session.

The courtroom where the dramatic scene unfolded was sealed off and Presiding Judge Carmel Agius said that it was now a "crime scene" so that Dutch police could investigate.

He and five other former Bosnian Croat leaders had been accused of trying to ethnically cleanse parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and were found guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2013.

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Praljak was convicted for his actions between 1992 and 1994, including the rape and murder of Bosnian Muslims in the wake of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia.

A screengrab purporting to show wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces Slobodan Praljak drinking what he said was poison in court.

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