Thousands attend ceremony honoring Slobodan Praljak in Croatia | News | DW | 11.12.2017
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Thousands attend ceremony honoring Slobodan Praljak in Croatia

The convicted war criminal killed himself in late November after drinking poison in front of live cameras. The son of Croatia's late President Franjo Tudjman has called his conviction an "insult to justice."

Some 2,000 people attended a packed ceremony in the Croatian capital of Zagreb on Monday to commemorate Bosnian Croat general Slobodan Praljak, who killed himself in front of live cameras as a UN court convicted him of war crimes on November 29.

"Slobodan Praljak wouldn't live as a war criminal for a minute because he wasn't one," said Miroslav Tudjman, the son of Croatia's late president Franjo Tudjman, to a clapping crowd in the Lisinski concert hall, adding: "His conviction is an insult for justice."

Read more: The Hague Tribunal: A death and the painful truth

The UN court in the Hague had found Praljak and five other Bosnian Croats guilty of a "joint criminal enterprise" to cleanse southern Bosnia of Bosniaks during the 1992-1995 war, a campaign then-President Tudjman was also involved in.

Upon hearing his sentencing upheld, Praljak yelled: "Judges, Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. I reject the verdict with contempt," before drinking potassium cyanide from a small bottle. The 72-year-old died shortly thereafter in a nearby hospital.

Praljak's body was cremated at a private service on Thursday.

Croatia - Ceremony for General Praljak (Reuters/A. Bronic)

Senior Croatian politicians were among the crowd on Monday

Still revered in Croatia

Praljak's death has angered many Croatians who see him and the other five convicted leaders as war heroes. In recent weeks, people across the country and Croat areas of Bosnia have laid flowers and lit candles in town squares to honor him.

On Monday, public buses ran free of charge to the ceremony organized by the Croatian generals' association. Two government ministers and multiple senior officials from the ruling conservative HDZ party were also in attendance.

Dutch authorities have opened an inquiry into how Praljak, who had been in police custody immediately before the court hearing, got the poison.

Read more: 'One can be both perpetrator and victim at the same time'

Watch video 01:13

War criminal dies after drinking poison

amp/msh (dpa, AFP, AP)

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