A former Bosnian Croat general has died after swallowing poison moments after a judge at The Hague upheld his 20-year sentence for war crimes, Croatia’s Prime Minister has confirmed.

On hearing that his sentence had been upheld, 72-year-old Slobodan Praljak stood and raised his hand to his mouth, tipped his head back and appeared to swallow a glass of liquid. He told the judge, “I have taken poison”.

“Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. I am rejecting your verdict with contempt,” he said.

The Presiding judge immediately suspended the proceedings and an ambulance was called.

The courtroom is now being treated as a crime scene, an International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) spokesperson told CNN News.

Praljak, a former assistant defense minister of Croatia and at the same time a commander of the Croatian Defense Council, was appealing a jail term of 20 years in prison.

Informed that soldiers were rounding up Muslims in Prozor in the summer of 1993, Praljak had failed to make any serious efforts to stop it, the UN war crimes tribunal found.

He had also failed to act on information that murders were being planned, as well as attacks on members of international organisations and property in East Mostar such as mosques.

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