Big mystery remains unsolved after war criminal died from drinking poison in court

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The death of Croatian war criminal Slobodan Praljak, who consumed poison while in court, remains shrouded in mystery. On November 29, 2017, Praljak appeared in a United Nations (UN) courtroom to appeal his 20-year prison sentence for war crimes. Moments after the appeals judge upheld his sentence, the 72-year-old declared his innocence and ingested potassium cyanide from a small bottle, leading to his collapse in court.

Viewers witnessed the former Bosnian Croat military commander drinking the liquid, his hand trembling, in a scene streamed live on the court’s website. Praljak was pronounced dead in a Dutch hospital approximately two hours later.

Following his death, Dutch prosecutors initiated an investigation into how Praljak smuggled the poison into the UN courtroom. However, despite months of scrutiny, authorities were unable to determine how or when he obtained the potassium cyanide.

Surveillance footage from the court was reviewed, witnesses were interviewed, and Praljak’s UN cell was searched, but no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was found. Prosecutors noted that potassium cyanide can be stored in dry powder form, making it difficult to detect, and only a small amount is needed to be lethal.

In a handwritten farewell letter discovered in his cell, Praljak expressed his desire to have his ashes scattered over a cemetery in Zagreb, Croatia, instead of having a traditional burial. He also indicated that he had made the decision to end his life if found guilty long before the court ruling.

The investigation’s inconclusive findings shed little light on the circumstances surrounding Praljak’s suicide in court. For those who may be struggling, Samaritans offers confidential support through their 24-hour phone line at 116 123.

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