The Latest: UN prosecutors urge Croatia to accept findings
Nov. 29, 2017
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on rulings at the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (all times local):
Prosecutors at a United Nations war crimes tribunal are welcoming an appeals panel's judgment upholding the convictions of six Bosnian Croat military and political leaders.
A written statement from the tribunal's prosecution said the convictions underscore Zagreb's control over rebel Croat forces responsible for crimes in Bosnia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
The former leaders were back before the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on Wednesday to hear the outcome of their appeals. They were all found guilty of war crimes for trying to establish a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.
The prosecutors' statement made no mention of the defendant who died Wednesday after drinking what he said was poison in court and shouting that he was not a war criminal.
The U.N. prosecutors said "responsible officials" in Croatia "should promote acceptance of these facts as the foundation for reconciliation."
The Croatian government is denouncing a war crimes tribunal's finding that former President Franjo Tudjman and other leaders participated in a plan to carve out a Croat mini-state in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic says his country's leadership during the Bosnian war could "in no way be connected with the facts and interpretations" the U.N. court provided for a Wednesday appeals judgment involving six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders.
Plenkovic says such interpretations are "unacceptable."
The prime minister spoke after one of the convicted war criminals, former General Slobodan Praljak, died in a Dutch hospital after appearing before the Netherlands-based tribunal.
Praljak claimed he consumed poison after the U.N. judges upheld his 20-year sentence in the case. Plenkovic says Praljak's act reflects "the deep moral injustice toward the Croatian people."
A spokesman for a United Nations' war crimes court has confirmed that a former Bosnian Croat general died in a Dutch hospital shortly after drinking a liquid in a courtroom where judges had just confirmed his 20-year sentence.
Nenad Golcevski told reporters at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that 72-year-old Slobodan Praljak died Wednesday despite efforts to save him.
Golcevski said: "Mr. Praljak drank a liquid while in court and quickly fell ill. The ICTY medical staff immediately assisted Mr. Praljak. Simultaneously an ambulance was summoned. Mr. Praljak was transported to a nearby hospital to receive further medical assistance, where he passed."
Praljak yelled in court that he had taken poison. The tribunal did not elaborate on the nature of the liquid he drank.
The Croatian prime minister has confirmed the death of a convicted Bosnian Croat war criminal, offering condolences to the man's family.
Andrej Plenkovic said at a press conference that "we have all unfortunately witnessed his act by which he took his own life."
Plenkovic says Slobodan Praljak's action reflects the "deep moral injustice" done to six Bosnian Croats whose guilty verdicts were upheld by the U.N.'s war crimes court in the Hague on Wednesday.
The 72-year-old Praljak drank from a bottle shortly after judges at the tribunal upheld his sentence for involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
A lawyer who has frequently defended suspects at the U.N. war crimes court in the Netherlands says it would be easy to bring poison into the court.
Prominent Serbian lawyer Toma Fila told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it is "absolutely possible" to bring poison into the court in the Hague.
He says security for lawyers and other court staff "is just like at an airport."
Fila said: "They inspect metal objects, like belts, metal money, shoes, and take away mobile phones."
He added that "pills and small quantities of liquids" would not be registered.
Fila commented on the security measures after Croatia's state TV reported that a Bosnian Croat died after claiming to have taken poison at the war crimes tribunal just after his 20-year sentence was upheld.
Croatia's state TV says Slobodan Praljak who claimed to have taken poison just after his 20-year sentence was upheld by appeals judges at a U.N. war crimes tribunal, has died.
Dutch police will not comment on the TV report based on "sources close to Gen. Praljak."
Spokesman for the tribunal Nenad Golcevski, when asked by the AP if he could confirm the death, said: "I have no information to share at this point."
Praljak, 72, drank from a bottle shortly after appeals judges confirmed his sentence for involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat ministate in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
Slobodan Praljak who claimed to have taken poison just after his 20-year sentence was upheld by U.N. war crimes appeals judges, is a Bosnian Croat writer and film and theater director turned wartime general.
The 72-year-old is one of six Bosnian Croat political and military leaders who with significant support from neighboring Croatia turned against the Bosnian Army during the 1992-95 war, trying to establish an ethnically homogenous Croat region within Bosnia by force, just like Bosnian Serbs did in other areas with help from Serbia.
Before the war, Praljak directed in various theaters, including in Mostar where he was eventually accused of command responsibility for the destruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar, one of the most striking Ottoman monuments in the Balkans, and a jewel of Bosnia's Islamic heritage.
A judge at the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia says that the court room where a convicted war criminal claimed to have taken poison is now being considered as a crime scene.
Slobodan Praljak drank from a bottle shortly after appeals judges confirmed his 20-year sentence for involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat ministate in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
The hearing was suspended, but resumed on Wednesday afternoon in a different room. Officials said Praljak, 72, is alive and receiving medical treatment.
Nenad Golcevski, a spokesman for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia says that war crimes convict Slobodan Praljak is "still alive and is receiving medical treatment" after he claimed to have taken poison during a court hearing.
Golcevski would not confirm whether Praljak, 72, had been taken out of the tribunal building.
The hearing was suspended after the incident, but officials now say it will resume at 1315 GMT. Three defendants are still waiting to hear the results of their appeals.
Croatian state TV says President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic has decided to cut short an official visit to Iceland and the government is holding an emergency session after a former Bosnian Croat military chief claimed to have taken poison during a hearing at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Slobodan Praljak appeared to drink from a small bottle Wednesday, seconds after judges reconfirmed his 20-year prison sentence for involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat ministate in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
Croatian officials have also denounced the U.N. judges for upholding a finding that late Croat President Franjo Tudjman was a member of a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.
Tudjman's son, Miroslav, said Praljak's move was a "consequence of his moral position not to accept the verdict that has nothing to do with justice or reality."
A court guard has told reporters in the lobby of the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that defendant Slobodan Praljak is alive and "receiving medical attention" after he claimed to have taken poison in the court room.
The guard declined to give further details and did not give his name.
Praljak drank from a bottle and said it was poison shortly after the appeals judges had confirmed his 20-year sentence for involvement in crimes as Croat forces attempted to carve out a Croat ministate in Bosnia by driving Muslims from towns and villages during the 1992-95 war.
Dutch emergency services, police, a firetruck and an ambulance have parked outside the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and what appeared to be firefighters, some of them wearing oxygen tanks, have entered the court after one of the defendants claimed to have drunk poison.
The court building was not evacuated. A ramp that would allow a stretcher to be wheeled out was laid down the court steps.
Slobodan Praljak claimed to have taken the poison just after his 20-year sentence was upheld by appeals judges.
Three out of six suspects at the last case at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have had their sentences confirmed, although some of their convictions were overturned by appeal judges.
The hearing was suspended, however, after one of the three, Slobodan Praljak, claimed to have drunk poison and shouted that he was not a war criminal, after his 20-year sentence was upheld.
The six Bosnian Croat political and military leaders had appealed against their convictions for involvement in crimes as Croat forces attempted to carve out a Croat ministate in Bosnia by driving Muslims from towns and villages during the 1992-95 war.
United Nations judges have suspended an appeals hearing after one of the suspects drank from a small bottle in court and claimed to have taken poison.
Slobodan Praljak, a former commander of Bosnian Croat forces in Bosnia's 1992-95 war, drank from a small bottle or glass and yelled "I am not a war criminal" moments after judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had confirmed his 20-year sentence on appeal Wednesday.
A United Nations war crimes tribunal is handing down its last judgment in an appeal by six Bosnian Croat political and military leaders who were convicted in 2013 of persecuting, expelling and murdering Muslims during Bosnia's war.
Wednesday's hearing is the final case to be completed at the groundbreaking International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia before it closes its doors next month.
The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993, while fighting still raged in the former Yugoslavia. It indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.
The original conviction said that late-Croat President Franjo Tudjman was a key member of a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.