Shocking video from inside a court hearing in The Hague shows a convicted war criminal ingesting what he said was "poison" after declaring his innocence. Slobodon Praljak, 72, later died, according to The Associated Press, citing Croatian state television.
The BBC's version of the video begins with Praljak standing in a suit apparently after a judge has told him that he has lost his latest appeal. The judge asks Praljak to sit down, but Praljak remains standing and takes a deep breath before addressing the court.
"Slobodon Praljak is not a war criminal," he says. "I am rejecting the court ruling."
Praljak then drank liquid from a small vial and said flatly, "I have taken poison." The judges appear briefly stunned before realizing what happened as aides rush around. The BBC reported that the United Nations had not been able to confirm Praljak's death.
Praljak, formerly a senior Croatian Army officer, was among a group of senior officers and officials accused of participating in the 1990s in a "joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was to politically and military subjugate, permanently remove and ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats who lived in the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina," according to Hague documents [PDF]. The indictment against Prajlak said he was, among other things, "closely involved in all aspects" of "military planning and operations."
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