UN tribunal to launch its own independent probe into Slobodan Praljak′s ICTY suicide | News | DW | 01.12.2017
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UN tribunal to launch its own independent probe into Slobodan Praljak's ICTY suicide

The UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has ordered an independent probe into Slobodan Praljak's suicide. The Bosnian Croat ex-general swallowed what he said was poison in the courtroom and died soon after.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced on Friday that it was launching its own investigation into court's "internal operations" after Bosnian Croat former general Slobodan Praljak managed to seemingly commit suicide in front of stunned judges. 

The ICTY investigation will complement the ongoing investigation launched by Dutch authorities, tribunal officials in The Hague said.  

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

The tribunal had come under pressure to act, following comments from Croatia's justice minister criticizing the speed of response by security and medical staff in the criminal courtroom.

After the court decided to uphold Praljak's 20-sentence for crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995, the former commander of Bosnian Croat military forces stood up defiantly and drank from a small bottle of what he claimed was poison. He died in hospital shortly afterwards.

The ICTY review, which will be headed by Hassan Jallow, a former prosecutor with the UN's Rwanda war crimes tribunal, will also aim to determine how Praljak obtained and smuggled the bottle into the courtroom.

According to tribunal rules, everyone entering the UN detention center is subjected to security checks "irrespective of his or her status, nationality, function or age." Every item either brought or sent into the center is inspected, open or X-rayed. 

The review is set to begin next week, with a report due to be submitted by December 31.

Dutch authorities plan Praljak autopsy

The Netherlands' Public Prosecution Service announced Thursday that they would launch an investigation into security lapses during the incident, before announcing Friday that they plan to conduct an autopsy on Praljak's body. 

Read more: Opinion: The overburdened Hague Tribunal

Dutch investigators have already determined that the bottle Praljak drank from contained "a chemical substance which can cause death," although what the precise toxic chemical was remains unknown.

Croatia's Justice Minister Drazen Bosnjakovic said his government would ask Dutch authorities to be included in the ongoing investigation. Speaking to Croatian state television, Bosnjakovic said that "much remains unclear, including how the poison was taken in, why security didn't react in time and why medical help arrived so late."

dm/msh (AP, Reuters, AP)

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