How did Bosnian Croat war criminal obtain 'poison'?
The Hague (AFP)
Two investigations will seek to uncover how a Bosnian Croat war criminal managed to commit suicide during a hearing at a UN court by drinking a deadly substance.
Security measures at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where Slobodan Praljak took his life on Wednesday are tight. But there are ways to evade the scanners and prying eyes.
Speaking to AFP, Dutch lawyer Goran Sluiter, a professor of international law at the University of Amsterdam, explains how, saying it was more than likely Praljak had an accomplice.
- How did he get the liquid? -
"There are three scenarios. He got hold of the liquid in the detention centre, while being transported from the prison to the courtroom, or inside the courtroom itself. But I would be very surprised if he got it during the transport, as it's a very short lapse of time."
It is possible that "the liquid he drank was a medicine that he had received in the centre for treatment, but which he then stashed away.
"If he got hold of the bottle inside the courtroom then that reduces the circle of people who could have helped him. So you are thinking about the lawyers.
"Whatever happened, there are very strong chances that he had help."
- What security measures are in place? -
"When they arrive at the court, the detainees pass through security controls. Then -- before the hearing and afterwards, before returning to the detention centre -- the accused are kept in holding cells.
"At the detention centre, we lawyers must pass through two security controls. One at the entrance to the Scheveningen detention centre which comes under the authority of the Dutch, and then again when entering the part of the jail reserved for ICTY suspects which is under the authority of UN guards. We are scanned like at an airport. The UN controls are much stricter than those done by the Dutch.
"At the court, the suspects have to pass through security controls which detect metal and drugs. But it is not always possible to stop drugs. Medicines, for example, can be mixed with water, and passed off as a bottle of water."
- Are there pat-downs? -
"This is not a terrorist unit, so the pat-downs are less strict. My bottles of water have never been controlled, for example. Clothing is felt to see if it contains a weapon. Praljak could have quite easily hidden this small bottle in one of his bodily cavities.
"When someone really wants to end their life, they will always find a way to do it."
© 2017 AFP