A deadly chemical was in the container from which a Croat war criminal drank shortly before dying, a Dutch prosecutor said Thursday, as an independent investigation into the dramatic death of Slobodan Praljak continued.
Presiding judge Carmel Agius immediately suspended the proceedings saying "Don't take away the glass that he used when he drank something", and an ambulance was called.
A Bosnian Croat war criminal died yesterday after apparently drinking poison in dramatic courtroom scenes after United Nations judges upheld his 20-year jail term, Croatian media said, throwing the tribunal into chaos during its final judgement.
Preliminary testing confirmed that the cause of death was "drinking a liquid that can kill", spokesman Vincent Veenman of the public prosecutors office in The Hague said.
Before the Bosnian conflict, he had been a writer and film director.
A reading of the judgment, which was also ruling on appeals against convictions and sentences against five other Bosnian Croat convicts, resumed more than two hours after Praljak drank the apparent poison.
The 1992-95 war in Bosnia, in which 100,000 people died and 2.2 million were displaced, mainly pitted Bosnian Muslims against Bosnian Serbs, but also saw brutal fighting between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats after an initial alliance fell apart, the Guardian reported.
The unprecedented drama came as judges handed down their very last verdict at the court in the appeal case of six Bosnian Croat political and military leaders.
Before the war, Praljak directed productions in theaters across Bosnia, notably in the southern city of Mostar, where he was accused of ordering the destruction of the city's Old Bridge, one of the most striking Ottoman monuments in the Balkans and a jewel of Bosnia's Islamic heritage.
The wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces said in court that he had taken poison.
Judges ruled there had been a criminal conspiracy, with the involvement of Croatia's government under then-President Franjo Tudjman - who died in 1999 - aimed at the "ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population" of parts of Bosnia to cement Croat domination there.
"Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal".
In the complex ruling the judges upheld the jail terms against all six defendants, including a 25-year sentence imposed on Jadranko Prlic, the former prime minister of the Bosnian Croat statelet, known as Herzog-Bosna.