On Wednesday, former Bosnian Croat General Slobodan Praljak, 72, who had been imprisoned since 2004 when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for war crimes in the civil war in the former Yugoslavia between 1991-2001, heard a court decide the results of his appeal of a 2013 conviction for war crimes. When he heard his appeal was denied, he stood up in court, protested he was not a war criminal, took a small vial and drank poison, then later told the court what he had just done.
In the civil war, Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, and Kosovars all attempted to ethnically cleanse the area of each other. In 1993, the UN approved UN Security Council Resolution 827, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
The charges against Praljak were outlined in 2004:
Slobodan Praljak, also known as “Brada”, son of Mirko was born on 1 or 2 January 1945, in the town of Capljina, in Capljina municipality, SRBiH. According to the Indictment, on about 14 March 1992, Slobodan Praljak became Assistant Minister of Defence for the Republic of Croatia, and worked closely with the Minister of Defence, Gojko Susak. On 10 September 1992, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman appointed him to be one of 14 members of the Republic of Croatia’s Council of National Defence, and he remained in this position until at least 15 June 1993. On 13 May 1993, Praljak was named to the Republic of Croatia’s state commission for relations with the United Nations Protection Force (“UNPROFOR”).
From approximately March 1992 to July 1993, Praljak served simultaneously as a senior Croatian Army officer, Assistant Minister of Defence and senior representative of the Croatian Ministry of Defence to the “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO government and armed forces. According to the Indictment, he served as a conduit for orders, communications and instructions from President Franjo Tudjman, Gojko Susak and other senior officials of Croatia to the “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO government and armed forces, and reported to and kept Croatia’s senior officials informed of developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During this period, it is alleged that he played a prominent role in securing weapons and ammunition for the “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO armed forces.
He directly and indirectly commanded “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO foces and operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Indictment states that from approximately 24 July 1993 to 9 November 1993, he served as top overall military commander of “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO armed forces. In his various positions and functions, Praljak excercised de jure and/or de facto command and control over “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO forces. At times relevant to the Indictment, he exercised effective control and substantial influence over “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO armed forces (including the operative zone commanders). The Indictment alleges that he was responsible for the management, organisation, planning, preparation, training, discipline, supply, deployment and operational, strategic and combat orders. He also had command authority over the “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO civilian police, when they acted under or in coordination with the “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO armed forces during times of armed conflict. He was closely involved in all aspects of “Herceg-Bosna”/HVO military planning and operations.
Video from court below: