Bosnia War Criminal Had Cyanide in System

Praljak swallowed poison at UN tribunal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 2, 2017 7:37 AM CST
Autopsy: War Criminal Had Cyanide in System
In this Sept. 1991 photo, Slobodan Praljak poses near a frontline in Sunja, Croatia.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

A former Croatian general who died after swallowing a liquid at a war crimes hearing in the Netherlands had cyanide in his system, Dutch prosecutors said after an autopsy was performed Friday. Preliminary results from a toxicological test revealed "a concentration of potassium cyanide" in Slobodan Praljak's blood, the Hague Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement, per the AP. The cyanide caused heart failure, which investigators "pointed out" as the 72-year-old Praljak's "suspected cause of death," according to the statement. On Wednesday, Praljjak drank from a small bottle that he said contained poison seconds after an appeals judge at the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia confirmed his 20-year sentence for crimes during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

The United Nations tribunal ordered an independent review of its "internal operations" following the dramatic event in its courtroom. The tribunal said its review was meant to complement the ongoing investigation of Praljak's death by Dutch prosecutors. The announcement came after Croatia's justice minister raised doubts about whether security and medical staff at the tribunal responded quickly enough when Praljak raised the bottle to his lips with a trembling right hand and consumed its contents. Before the toxicological test results came back, Dutch prosecutors had confirmed the bottle carried a toxic chemical. It remains unclear how Praljak, who was in custody before the hearing, obtained the substance and managed to smuggle it into the courtroom.

(More war crimes stories.)

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