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War criminal Slobodan Praljak died of cyanide poisoning

A war criminal who swallowed a liquid during a dramatic court appearance died of cyanide poisoning, Dutch prosecutors say.

Slobodan Praljak took the poison while appearing before UN judges in The Hague after his conviction and 20-year sentence were upheld.

The former Croatian army chief drank from a small bottle and yelled: “I am not a war criminal. I oppose this conviction.”

His actions, which were broadcast on a video feed, forced the judges to temporarily suspend the hearing. Paramedics were seen entering the courtroom.

The hearing resumed a few hours later, with presiding judge Carmel Aguis saying: “Courtroom one is now a crime scene.”

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The moment war criminal swallowed poison

The 72-year-old was convicted in 2013 of crimes including murder, persecution and deportation for his role in the attempt to create a Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Praljak had a “concentration of potassium cyanide in his blood”.

That “resulted in a failure of the heart, which is indicated as the suspected cause of death”.

Two Croatian experts observed the post-mortem at the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Last week, it convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic of genocide.

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