Convicted war criminal dies after swallowing poison at Hague Tribunal

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The HaguePhoto: CvanderS / Wikimedia Commons

Slobodan Praljak passed away after drinking poison during a hearing at the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague on Wednesday, the Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenkovic, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. A spokesperson for the Tribunal also confirmed that the former army leader and convicted war criminal died in a hospital in The Hague, reports.

The 72-year-old man took poison immediately after the Tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in prison for committing war crimes against Bosnian Muslims. The hearing was suspended and Praljak was taken to hospital by ambulance. 

The Tribunal announced that the Dutch authorities are leading an investigation into Praljak's death. A spokesperson did not go into detail about the criminal investigation, and could not answer how Praljak managed to get hold of the poison.

The Public Prosecutor in The Hague's investigation is currently focused on assisted suicide and violation of the medicines act, the Prosecutor said in a statement. As the investigation just started, no further statements can be made yet.

After Praljak was taken to hospital, the Tribunal hearing continued in another room, as the original room was closed for investigation.

In addition to Praljak, the court also gave a final verdict against four other suspected war criminals on Wednesday - Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Milivoj Petkovic and Valentin Coric. They are all former political and military leaders of the Croation Republic Herceg Bosna, a mini state at the time of the civil war in Bosnia. All were previously sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in prison for war crimes.