The live stream of a United Nations war tribunal cut to black when the man on trial, a former Bosnian Croat military leader, drank poison upon hearing the ruling.
Slobodan Praljak, 72, was previously convicted in 2013 for his failure to act when soldiers were persecuting and murdering Muslims in East Mostar during the Bosnian War, which lasted from 1992 to 1995.
Praljak recently appealed his conviction and appeared before a court in The Hague. There, the initial 20-year sentence was upheld.
“Praljak is not a criminal. I reject your verdict,” he said, before grabbing a vial in his possession and drinking from it. He then told the court that he drank poison.
Carmel Agius, the presiding judge, suspended the court proceedings and ordered the curtains be drawn to shield the public from viewing the court. Emergency medical services nearby responded to Praljak.
While Croatian reported that Praljak died, a spokesperson for the tribunal was unable to confirm the death.
Prominent Serbian lawyer Toma Fila spoke of how easy it was to sneak poison into the courtroom while speaking with the Associated Press. Fila, who himself defended suspects at the war crimes court, said that security was “just like an airport.”
“They inspect metal objects, like belts, metal money, shoes, and take away mobile phones,” he said. However, “pills and small quantities of liquids” could easily remain undetected by security.
As Business Insider notes, Praljak is not the first general to attempt suicide during court proceedings. Slavko Dokmanovic and Milan Babić, both of whom were also Croation Serbs accused of war crimes in the Bosnian War, were found dead in their cells. Dokmanovic was found in 1998 and Babić in 2006.
Some outlets removed the videos of the attempt.
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