Uncategorized @bs

Slobodan Praljak Court Suicide: Source of Poison Not Found

2. November 2018.10:57
A Dutch investigation into former Bosnian Croat military official Slobodan Praljak’s suicide at the UN war crimes tribunal in 2017 failed to establish how he obtained the poison that he took in the courtroom.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The public prosecution in The Hague has completed an investigation into Slobodan Praljak’s dramatic courtroom suicide without being able to establish how he got the potassium cyanide that he took as his verdict was being read out in November 2017, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals announced on Friday.

“The investigation has not shown in what way and at what point in time Mr Praljak had obtained the potassium cyanide he used,” the prosecution said.

The Dutch investigation has been closed after prosecutors determined that “no criminal acts were committed during the incident”, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals said.

Praljak, the wartime commander of the Main Headquarters of the Croatian Defence Council  swallowed the poison in the courtroom as the Hague judges confirmed his 20-year sentence for crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during wartime.

Praljak stood up in court and shouted that he did not recognise the verdict and he was not a war criminal and then drank the potassium cyanide from a vial. He died in hospital about two hours later.

The investigation by the Dutch prosecutors aimed to establish whether either of two crimes were committed – possession of prohibited narcotics or assistance in the commission of suicide.

The cyanide that Praljak took was not listed as a prohibited substance under Dutch law, however.

“With regards to the investigation concerning assistance in the commission of suicide, the Dutch authorities conducted a thorough investigation of how Praljak could get a hold of the cyanide. Witnesses were interviewed, video materials watched, rooms in which Praljak stayed were checked and numerous materials inspected. However, no information was found concerning the question on how Praljak came into possession of that substance,” the prosecutors’ report said.

The report added that video surveillance recordings did not show if Praljak carried the vial of poison with him or if it was handed to him.

“The recordings from the courtroom do not show where he took the vial from. Prior to the pronouncement of the verdict, Praljak briefly visited two rooms without cameras, namely the toilet and the defendant’s lobby. Nothing important was found in those rooms later on,” the prosecution said.

The Dutch prosecutors concluded, on the basis of statements by witnesses, that Praljak had considered committing suicide for some time.

“For instance, he had already packed his belongings and prepared them for being shipped to Croatia, and he said farewell to some people… After Praljak’s death, a suicide note was found in which he wrote to his family that he had decided to end his life a long time ago in case he was pronounced guilty,” they said.

The prosecutors also said that Praljak could have had the cyanide for a very long time, because it can be stored in a dry state.

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals meanwhile noted that it had conducted an internal investigation into Praljak’s death, which determined that “procedures were not violated”, but made recommendations aimed at preventing similar incidents at the UN court in the future.

Praljak was one of six former political and military officials of the unrecognised wartime Herzeg-Bosnia statelet who were convicted in November 17 of a series of crimes against Bosniaks.

Jadranko Prlic, the former president of the Herzeg-Bosnia government, was sentenced to 25 years in prison, while Bruno Stojic, former defence minister, and Milivoj Petkovic, former chief of the Main Headquarters of the Croatian Defence Council, got 20 years each.

The former commander of the military police, Valentin Coric, was sentenced to 16 years and the president of the Herzeg-Bosnia prisoner exchange commission, Berislav Pusic, to ten years in prison.

Praljak was mourned in Croatia despite his conviction, and several thousand people, including two Croatian ministers, MPs and generals, attended a ceremony commemorating the deceased Bosnian Croat general in Zagreb.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian