Security measures in The Hague amid fears of new suicides | Law



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Investigators at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague are fighting to close the security breaches amid fears that other inmates "make a Praljak", copying the Croatian warlord who committed suicide dramatically with cyanide.

Slobodan Praljak committed suicide, carried out in the dock and televised all over the world, threatens to make fun of the vaunted court security procedures.

With the Dutch police opening their own investigation, the court appointed Gambian judge Hbadan Jallow to find out how Praljak, 72, got the bottle of potbadium cyanide that Dutch prosecutors said killed him.

The investigation probably starts with the most flagrant violation: the lack of a guard close enough to Praljak to snatch the cyanide. [19659002] Most of the trials in The Hague have a blue uniformed guard on the dock next to the defendants: two were deployed to flank the Serbian Serb Bosnian Serb Ratko Mladić last month when the judges sentenced him for genocide by orchestrating the Srebrenica mbadacre.

However, there was no guard next to Praljak, who was sentenced to 20 years for a litany of crimes against Muslims during the Bosnian war, when he appeared on the dock along with four fellow Bosnian Croat accused to listen the appeals against the considerable judgments rejected.

Only two security personnel chose the row of defendants in what was called the final act of the court before it closed its doors later this month, and noticed the bottle that Praljak had in front to him in his fleshy hands.

After hearing his 20-year sentence confirmed by the appellate judges, the bearded warlord declared: "Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal, I reject your judgment with contempt." and he put the contents of the bottle in his mouth.

Only when Praljak, staggering, with glbady eyes, collapsed in his seat and announced: "I have taken poison," the judges reacted.

"There we are Normally, there are two guards behind the accused … not this time," said a Croatian official, who would not be identified because they are not authorized to speak with the media. "The Croatian press says that maybe the last day of the Tribunal helped to relax the rules."

Investigators will also want to know how Praljak got the poison in the dock, despite the rules that require striping and x-rays for defendants entering and leaving the court complex. Given the lethality of even small doses of cyanide, officials may be considered lucky to have used it alone.

Concerned investigators whether other convicts who still await appeal verdicts by a successor court that should start work next month may be tempted to take similar drastic measures.

Suicide long persecuted the Hague tribunal, a byproduct of harsh sentences dictated by horrendous crimes in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

Two inmates of The Hague, both Serbs, were hanged in the cells of the Scheveningen Prison of the court on the Dutch coast. Slobodan Milošević, the former president of Serbia and the senior defendant in The Hague, was apparently able to smuggle an antibiotic into his cell to exacerbate a heart disease that killed him near the end of his three-year trial in 2006. [19659002] Visitors to the Hague fortress are subjected to X-ray searches, and liquids are supposed to be prohibited, but judges have not introduced more intrusive searches of body cavity, for fear of a public reaction.

"It's like airport security, it's not that intense," says Dr. Eric Gordy, of the School of Slavic and Eastern Studies at the University of London. "If the searches were more intense, everyone would complain"

. Some fear that suicide will tarnish the successes of a court that imprisoned dozens of war criminals and achieved a series of precedents in international justice, condemning those responsible for atrocities Cleanliness, mbad rape and the siege of Sarajevo.

Praljak, a theatrical director who became a key leader of the Bosnian Croat forces in the early 1990s, was convicted of crimes such as the bombing of the ancient city of Mostar and prisoner abuse. However, the verdict has been declared a "profound moral injustice" by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, which is believed to be the first statement by the head of an EU government in support of a condemned war criminal. "This [suicide] will consolidate what was already public opinion about the court," says Mina Vidaković of the Sense news agency, which is filing judgment material from The Hague. "In Serbia and Croatia, the establishment and the media are more concerned about the accused than the victims."

Others think that the legacy of the court will survive. "I do not think this strange and bizarre event will distract the biggest story of the court's achievements," said Balkan expert Tim Judah. "Their successes overcome their failures."

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