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War crimes defendant opposes conviction, 'drinks poison' in court

War crimes defendant opposes conviction, 'drinks poison' in court

Wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces, Slobodan Praljak, 72, sipped a toxic liquid during a hearing at the United Nations war crimes tribunal on Wednesday after his 20-year prison sentence was upheld, his lawyer said.

Independent reported Praljak was originally sentenced in 2013 for his involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s. The 72-year-old told the hearing, which was being filmed: "I just drank poison". "I am not a war criminal".

Slobodan Praljak, a former Bosnian Croat official who was on trial Wednesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, has reportedly died after drinking poison.

The judge suspended the hearing and Praljak was brought in for treatment, according to Reuters. It said Praljak "was transported to a nearby hospital to receive further medical assistance where he passed away".

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Agius had overturned some of Praljak's convictions but upheld others and left his sentence unchanged. "Defense minister" Bruno Stojic was sentenced to 20 years.

Dutch police, an ambulance and a fire truck quickly arrived outside the court's headquarters and emergency service workers, some of them wearing helmets and with oxygen tanks on their backs, went into the court shortly after the incident.

Set up by mandate of the UN Security Council in 1993, the ICTY is due to close when its mandate expires at the end of the year.

He had been found guilty of being part of a criminal enterprise by the wartime Croatian government of late President Franjo Tudjman, to create an ethnically pure state.