Private funeral held for Bosnian-Croat war criminal Praljak: report


Zagreb (AFP)

Bosnian Croat war criminal Slobodan Praljak, who swallowed poison before UN judges in The Hague last week, had a private funeral in Zagreb, a Croatian newspaper reported Saturday.

Moments after the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia upheld his 20-year jail sentence on November 29, Praljak took his own life in dramatic scenes that were broadcast live from the courtroom.

He died in a hospital several hours later and the preliminary results showed he swallowed potassium cyanide and died from heart failure.

The funeral ceremony for Praljak was held Thursday at Zagreb's main Mirogoj crematorium in the presence of close family and a few close friends, "those he listed in the farewell letter", influential Vecernji List daily reported Saturday, quoting anonymous sources.

The information could not be independently confirmed and the funeral was not announced like others at the cemetery's website.

In a sealed letter handed over to his family a few years ago, to be opened when he dies, Praljak said he wanted his funeral be a private one, his lawyer Nika Pinter told AFP last week.

On Monday the Croatian generals' association will hold a commemoration for Praljak and a mass will be held at a Zagreb church the same day.

The 72-year old 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.

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.