A former Bosnian Croat military chief who appeared to ingest poison during a United Nations war crimes tribunal on Wednesday has reportedly died.
Croatian state TV said Slobodan Praljak, 72, a former commander in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, appeared to drink from a small bottle moments after judges at the international criminal tribunal in The Hague reconfirmed a 20-year sentence.
He yelled “I am not a war criminal” while his lawyer shouted: “My client says he has taken poison.”
Presiding Judge Carmel Aguis quickly suspended the hearing while Dutch emergency services were called to the scene. A court guard told reporters that Praljak was “receiving medical attention.”
It’s unclear what kind of liquid Praljak ingested.
Dutch police will not comment on the TV report based on "sources close to Gen. Praljak."
A spokesman for the tribunal, Nenad Golcevski, when asked by the Associated Press if he could confirm the death, said: "I have no information to share at this point."
Praljak was charged at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia with ordering the destruction of Mostar’s 16th-century bridge in November 1993. Judges said the bridge’s destruction “caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population.”
Wednesday’s hearing was the final case at the groundbreaking tribunal before it closes its doors next month. The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993, while fighting still raged in the former Yugoslavia. It indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.
The appeals judges upheld a key finding that late Croat President Franjo Tudjman was a member of a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.
The original trial began in April 2006 and provided a reminder of the complex web of ethnic tensions that fueled fighting in Bosnia and continues to create frictions in the country even today.
Two other suspects also had their sentences upheld before the hearing was halted, including the former prime minister of a Croat entity in Bosnia, Jadranko Prlic, who was sentenced to 25 years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.