BELGRADE, November 29. /TASS/. A former Croat army general, Slobodan Praljak, has died after taking poison while hearing the International Crime Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia pronounce a verdict in his case, the Croatian news agency Hina said on Wednesday quoting a source in Praljak’s entourage.
"General Slobodan Praljak has died in hospital in The Hague after taking poison in the courtroom as the ICTY upheld a 20-year prison term," Hina said.
While the sentence was being read out, Praljak stood up and said: "Judges, Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal! I reject your sentence with contempt!" After that he drank some liquid. His lawyer said it was poison.
Earlier, ICTY spokesman said Praljak was alive and receiving medical assistance.
The other defendants in the criminal case are the former prime minister of Herzeg-Bosnia (which ceased to exist upon the end of the Bosnian war and the conclusion of the Dayton Agreement in 1995) Jadranko Prlic, former member of the Herzeg-Bosnia leadership Berislav Pusic, former chief inspector of the Croatian army Milivoj Petkovic, former chief of the military police of the Croat Defense Council Valentin Coric and former Defense Minister Bruno Stoic. In 2013 all were found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violation of the Geneva conventions of 1949 during the period of the armed conflict in 1991-1995 and sentenced to long prison terms ranging from ten to 25 years. Appeals were filed by the convicts and by the prosecutor’s office. The latter claimed that the sentences were too soft.
The prison terms for Prlic (25 years) and Stoic and Praljak (20 years each) remained unchanged. The judges found no reason for retrial, either. The presiding judge had no time to read out the sentences to be handed to Pusic, Petkovic and Coric.