A war crimes appeal hearing was halted just after the verdict was announced Wednesday, when the defendant claimed to have taken poison.
The former Bosnian Croat general died after ingesting the substance following the judge’s sentence of 20 years for war crimes.
Images from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague showed Slobodan Praljak, a 72-year-old former Bosnian Croat general, tilting his head back and drinking from a small glass bottle when the presiding judge read the verdict.
“I just took poison,” he declared, saying he was not a war criminal and that he opposed to the conviction.
Then the judge was heard immediately suspending the proceedings and asking them to raise the curtains. An ambulance arrived at the building soon afterwards and paramedics rushed to the courtroom.
Praljak, a former supporter of the Croatian defense minister and commander of the Croatian Defense Council, has appealed his original 20-year prison sentence.
He was one of six Croatian ex-leaders in Bosnia convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the rape and murder of Bosnian Muslims, in 2013.
The crimes, dating from 1992 to 1994, occurred as part of a broader conflict that followed the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
The six were accused of trying to “ethnically cleanse” non-Croats from areas of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian Croat leaders, along with Croatian leaders, wanted to make this territory part of a “Greater Croatia,” the ICTY said when the case first came to court.
Praljak played an important role in obtaining weapons and ammunition for the army of the Croatian Defense Council, according to the original accusation.
The nature of the substance that Praljak ingested on Wednesday, or its source, is not yet clear.
See this video posted by RT:
Screencap (ICTY): Youtube