Croatian TV broadcasts war criminal Praljak's film in tribute


Zagreb (AFP)

Croatia's state broadcaster aired a film Friday directed by war criminal Slobodan Praljak, who killed himself in a courtroom in The Hague this week after UN judges upheld his 20-year jail sentence.

HRT television showed "The Return of Katarina Kozul" in the prime 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) slot after announcing the broadcast on its website with the title "In memoriam -- Slobodan Praljak".

The Bosnian Croat commander, who worked in film and theatre before joining the military, remains a hero to many Croats despite his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity during Bosnia's 1990s conflict.

On Wednesday, in dramatic scenes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Praljak drank from a bottle and told his lawyer it was poison, seconds after his jail term was upheld by appeal judges.

The 72-year-old was rushed to hospital, where he died the same day. Dutch prosecutors on Friday began an autopsy.

The judges confirmed that Praljak and his five Bosnian Croat co-defendants were part of a "joint criminal enterprise" to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims in the war.

Their convictions were upheld for crimes including murder, persecution and inhumane treatment.

Since Praljak's death, Croats have paid multiple tributes to the late general, laying flowers and lighting candles in town squares in Croatia and Bosnia.

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said Wednesday that the court's verdict was one of "deep moral injustice".

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said a day later that citizens must admit crimes were committed by Croats in Bosnia, although she added that the court had "failed to fulfil its role of bringing justice".

Praljak's 1989 film aired Friday tells the story of a young widow from Herzegovina in southern Bosnia who emigrates to Germany.