World Bulletin / News Desk
A UN war crimes appeal trial was suspended on Wednesday after a former Croatian general claimed to have drank poison upon being sentenced to 20 years in jail.
The case at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague came to an abrupt halt when Slobodan Praljak claimed to have taken poison from a small bottle.
"Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. I discard this verdict with contempt," he shouted. His lawyer also said Praljak had taken a substance, and the presiding judge ended proceedings.
It is not clear what, if anything, Praljak ingested.
Praljak is one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders of the self-proclaimed Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia which existed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
He had launched an appeal over a 2013 verdict against wartime Croatian figures who were sentenced to a total of 111 years in prison for crimes committed in the Bosnian conflict.
The ICTY Appeal Council had sentenced the ‘prime minister’ of the self-proclaimed Croatian entity, Jadranko Prlic, to 25 years in prison. ‘Defense minister’ Bruno Stojic was sentenced to 20 years.
However, it was Praljak's 20 years in prison which provoked uproar in court.
Meanwhile, a regular session in the Croatian parliament in Zagreb was interrupted and lawmakers left the chamber after the breaking news from The Hague.
According to Croatian State Agency HINA, a helicopter has been sent for Praljak.
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