Hague Tribunal on Praljak Courtroom Suicide: “No Omissions in Procedure Were Found”

Total Croatia News

A rather strange assessment from a court whose defendant killed himself in the courtroom.

An independent investigation conducted after the suicide of Slobodan Praljak, Bosnian Croat convicted of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina who committed suicide in the courtroom by taking poison in late November during the reading of the verdict, found there were no omissions or deficiencies within the legal framework of the Hague Tribunal regarding the treatment of prisoners, and therefore there was no need to change the rules, announced on Sunday the Hague-based tribunal, reports Jutarnji List on January 1, 2018.

The investigation was led by Judge Hassan B. Jallow, President of the Supreme Court of the Gambia and former prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. The investigation took place from 1 to 29 December and was complemented by an ongoing Dutch investigation that will determine whether a criminal offence has been committed in the case.

The investigation was focused on the appropriateness of the ICTY legal and political framework and compliance with the prescribed procedures. “My review has not revealed any omissions or deficiencies in the ICTY legal framework when it comes to the treatment of prisoners in the UN jail and the court, and therefore I do not suggest any changes to the ICTY rules and regulations,” Jallow said in a statement. “Further, the audit has shown that the staff of the UN jail, security staff and other ICTY staff respected the legal framework when it came to Praljak’s treatment;” he added.

“As stated in my conclusions, there are no measures that would guarantee the detection of poison at any stage,” Jallow said. “However, the revision has pointed to some measures that could be taken to increase the likelihood of detection in the future.” Jallow then gives recommendations referring to search procedures, including of visitors and prisoners’ cells, as well as training of security personnel. Also, he recommended that a 30-minute delay in the televised coverage of the proceedings should be introduced.

With regard to the poison used by Praljak, Jallow stated that it was potassium cyanide and that it was not possible to ascertain precisely when and how he obtained it. “The substance Praljak took has been analysed and found to be potassium cyanide. It is not possible to legally obtain potassium cyanide in prison nor produce it from substances available in prison. Potassium cyanide can be sent as a powder or dissolved in water. Quantity needed for a deadly dose is about 200 to 300 mg (equivalent to one tablet).”

“It is not possible to say definitively when and how Praljak obtained the poison. The current investigation by the Dutch authorities could clarify that. It is important to note that UN jail staff and ICTY officers did not have any information that Praljak had poison. But, even if they had such information, the nature and amount of poison were such that it could easily have remained undiscovered even after the most rigorous search of humans, cells and other areas. Its small size, strict search restrictions and the nature of search equipment in the UN jail and the court have contributed to the difficulty of detecting poison,” explained Jallow.

Jallow was assisted by independent experts with experience when it comes to security measures in prisons. They have analysed relevant international and ICTY detention regulations and internal security procedures. They interviewed 23 members of the ICTY staff to determine the circumstances of the incident which took place on 29 November.

They also analysed the video footage from the prison and the court, as well as documents related to Praljak. They also visited the UN jail and court, including the courtroom number 1 and prison cells. Judge Jallow was informed about the progress of the Dutch criminal investigation and met with representatives of the Croatian Embassy in The Hague, according to a statement by the Hague Tribunal.

General Slobodan Praljak, former chief of staff of the Croatian Defense Council, Bosnian Croat forces during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, committed suicide on 29 November. The Appeals Chamber had sentenced him to 20 years in prison for war crimes.

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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