UN War Crimes Court Upholds Convictions Against 6 Bosnian, Croat Leaders

Former commander Slobodan Praljak drank from bottle moments after judges upheld 20-year sentence in The Hague

Slobodan Praljak brings a bottle to his lips, during a Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

A wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces said on Wednesday he "drank poison" seconds after United Nations appeals judges upheld his 20-year sentence for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims. Later, a court spokesman said he was still alive and was being treated.

Though allies against the Bosnian Serbs in the war, Bosnian Croats and Muslims also fought each other for a period of 11 months, with Mostar seeing some of the fiercest fighting.

"My client says he drank poison this morning", defence attorney Natasa Faveau-Ivanovic said.

The presiding judge suspended the hearing and called for a doctor.

Praljak - who was jailed for 20 years in 2013 for committing crimes against Bosnian Muslims - then told the judge: "I just drank poison".




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

Some of his convictions for actions in the later years of the conflict were overturned, but his sentence was not.

Dutch police, an ambulance and a fire truck quickly arrived outside the court's headquarters and emergency service workers, some of them wearing helmets and with oxygen tanks on their backs, went into the court shortly after the incident.

Set up by mandate of the UN Security Council in 1993, the ICTY is due to close when its mandate expires at the end of the year.

Praljak was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders up before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

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