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ICTY Says Praljak Suicide Could Not Have Been Prevented

The UN court says its procedures could not have detected the cyanide that killed the former Bosnian Croat commander.

2 January 2018

An inquiry into the courtroom suicide of the former Bosnian Croat general Slobodan Praljak (pictured) has concluded that the fatal dose of cyanide he took could easily have been smuggled into the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague.


“There are no measures [at the tribunal] that would have guaranteed detection of the poison at any stage,” read a statement by Judge Hassan Jallow, who headed the inquiry, AFP reports.


Praljak died on 29 November in a hospital shortly after drinking cyanide in melodramatic protest against the confirmation of his 20-year prison sentence for war crimes. The UN tribunal, in one of its last actions, also confirmed the long sentences previously given to five other prominent Bosnian Croats convicted of conspiring to expel Muslims from a Croat-inhabited region in western Bosnia during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.


Jallow said limitations on intrusive searches and the screening equipment at the tribunal made it difficult to detect the small quantity of poison, according to the BBC.


Dutch prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into how Praljak obtained the cyanide.


Croats have paid tribute to Praljak in both Croatia and Bosnia “repeatedly” since his death, AFP writes.



  • An estimated 100,000 people died and some 2 million were displaced during the Bosnian conflict, which ended when the 1995 Dayton peace accords imposed a complex constitutional arrangement on the ethnically mixed country.


  • Serbs, Bosniak, and Croat forces all committed atrocities during the war, although the majority of those convicted of war crimes in international and local courts have been Serbs, RFE/RL writes.


  • Bosnian authorities filed charges of war crimes against 25 Bosniaks and four Bosnian Serbs in three separate cases recently, RFE reports. Eleven former members of the Bosniak (Muslim) army were charged on 29 December with taking part in an attack against a Serb village in which 30 people were killed. Earlier, 14 former Bosnian police and military officials were indicted for war crimes against Serbs in the southern Konjic region. Four former Bosnian Serb army officers were indicted for genocide against Muslims fleeing the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, prosecutors said on 28 December.


  • Bosnian prosecutors last week also charged a former interior minister of the wartime Bosnian Serb territory, Tomislav Kovac, with war crimes connected with the Srebrenica massacre, saying police under his control participated in the capture and murder of Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica, Balkan Insight reports.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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