UN court closes under cloud of war criminal’s suicide

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THE HAGUE: It was supposed to be business as usual in the sedate halls of the United Nations court for the former Yugoslavia, as judges delivered their final verdict after two decades of painstaking, groundbreaking work. Instead, halfway through Wednesday’s appeals judgement, a tall, determined Bosnian Croat – known for his past courtroom antics – wrought chaos on the tribunal, ensuring the last day of its public proceedings will be forever remembered for his shocking suicide. In full view of the cameras and judges, former military commander Slobodan Praljak, 72, defiantly drank down a noxious liquid to protest the upholding of his 20-year term for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s. But experts were divided on Thursday on how much the dramatic scenes would tarnish the court’s work in the long run. “The damage to the ICTY legacy and its international justice project is immense,” argued Jelena Subotic, a political science professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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