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Bosnian Croat war criminal 'drinks poison' at Hague hearing

Earlier this month a different, high-profile Bosnian war criminal was brought before the International Court of Justice, where he was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity. After being told once again to sit down, Praljak downs something from a bottle.

He said Praljak's course of action reflects the "deep moral injustice" suffered by six Bosnian Croats who unsuccessfully appealed against their convictions at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The chamber rejected the appeal lodged by the former Croat leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and confirmed the original finding that a joint criminal enterprise was established by Franjo Tudjman and other political leaders with the aim of setting up an entity "in accordance with the old borders of Croatia", Tanjug is reporting today.

It could not immediately be confirmed whether Praljak had taken poison, but a court spokesman said he was alive and receiving medical attention.

"Okay", the judge said. When I first met him it was on the front line in Croatia in 1991, and as soon as the camera crew arrived all hell erupted.

The crimes Praljak were convicted for stem from the destruction of a 16th century bridge in November of 1993, which the judges said "caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population".

Ironically, Praljak, who surrendered to the tribunal in April 2004 and had already been jailed for 13 years, could have soon walked free because those who are convicted are generally released after serving two-thirds of their sentences.

A flustered judge halted the hearing and Praljak was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died.

The conflict mainly saw Bosnian Muslims fighting Bosnian Serbs, but there were also deadly clashes involving Bosnian Muslims and Croats after an alliance fell apart.

Zagreb has also expressed anger at the United Nations judges for upholding a finding that the late Croat president Franjo Tudman was part of a plan to create a ministate in Bosnia.

In the complex ruling, the judges upheld the jail terms against all six defendants, including a 25-year sentence imposed on Jadranko Prlic, the former prime minister of the breakaway Bosnian Croat statelet, known as Herzog-Bosna. Of the 161 individuals indicted by the ICTY, the body created specifically to prosecute wartime crimes, 94 are ethnic Serbs, compared to 29 Croats, nine Albanians and nine Bosniaks.

Terms ranging from 10 to 20 years were also upheld against the four other defendants.

His judgement had also descended into confusion when he accused the judges of lying and had to be dragged away into a nearby room.

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