The poison ingested by Bosnian Croat Slobodan Praljak, who committed suicide during a hearing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was in no way detectable, the court announced on Sunday.
“There is no measure that could have detected the poison at any stage,” Judge Hassan Jallow said in a statement.
The court opened an internal investigation into the death of Slobodan Praljak, who committed suicide on November 29 by ingesting potassium cyanide in the courtroom and in front of the cameras, just after receiving confirmation of his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“My review has not exposed any gaps or flaws in the ICTY legal framework with regard to the treatment of detainees at the UNDU [United Nations detention unit] and the ICTY premises,” the judge said.
“The small size of the object, the limitations in the rules on intrusive searches, and the nature of the screening equipment available at both the UNDU and the ICTY premises all contributed to making it difficult to detect the contraband” said the judge, who was assisted by independent experts during the investigation.
The ongoing investigation by the Dutch prosecution, requested after the incident in the ICTY, seeks to determine how Mr. Praljak was able to procure and bring with him into the court a flask containing cyanide.
“It is not possible to legally acquire potassium cyanide or to make it illicitly from things available in the detention centre,” the judge noted.
To avoid this kind of incident, however, Hassan Jallow recommended “training sessions for security personnel to be shared with other courts”.
Mr. Praljak’s suicide occurred during the appeal judgement against six former Bosnian Croat military leaders accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Croat-Muslim conflict that broke out during the war in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995.