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War criminal dies after drinking 'poison' in dock

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Slobodan Praljak lost appeal

Slobodan Praljak lost appeal

Slobodan Praljak lost appeal

A Bosnian Croat commander has died after swallowing what he said was poison in a UN war crimes court after losing an appeal against a 20-year prison sentence.

Slobodan Praljak (72) died in hospital in The Hague after he was seen drinking from a flask or glass as a UN judge read out the ruling against him and five other suspects.

The apparent suicide, which was broadcast on a video feed, came in the final minutes of the last judgment at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which closes next month.

"I just drank poison," he said. "I am not a war criminal. I oppose this conviction."

After gulping down the drink, Praljak sat back down and slumped in his chair, said a lawyer who was in the court.

Paramedics

The presiding judge suspended the hearings and paramedics raced to the courtroom, which was declared a crime scene by Dutch authorities.

As a forensic investigation got under way, the court was sealed off.


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