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UN War Crimes Court Upholds Convictions Against 6 Bosnian, Croat Leaders

Jadranko Prlic, right, enters the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, Nov. 29, 2017, to hear the verdict in the appeals case.

A U.N. war crimes tribunal upheld the convictions Wednesday of six Bosnian and Croat political and military leaders who were convicted in 2013 of war crimes during the 1990's.

The ruling was the last to be handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was created by the United Nations in 1993. The court is scheduled to close when its mandate expires at the end of the year.

The officials were convicted four years ago of participating in an "ethnic cleansing" campaign against Bosnian Muslims during Bosnia's war.

Among the officials was former defense minister Jadranko Prlic, who had been convicted of participating in a criminal enterprise by the Croatian government of late President Franjo Tudjmano to create an ethnically pure state.

The Croatian government insisted it had "clean hands" during the 1992-95 war and wanted that finding overturned.

Several convictions for specific crimes for Prlic and the other defendants were reversed in an appeal, but the presiding judge said "all six remain convicted of numerous and very serious crimes."

The hearing was suspended after one of the suspects, former military commander Slobodan Praljak, drank from a bottle in court and claimed to have ingested poison. As he drank from the bottle, Praljak yelled "I am not a war criminal" moments after the court confirmed his 20-year sentence.

The court's original conviction said Tudjman played a leading role in a plan to create a small Croat state in Bosnia.