The United Nations heard an appeal yesterday from convicted Bosnian war criminal Slobodan Praljak. Parljak was sentenced to 20 years for ordering the destruction of Mostar’s 16th century bridge in 1993, which judges in the initial trial had said “caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population” during the breakup of Yugoslavia. The judges in Praljak’s appeal did accept that the bridge was a legitimate military target, and they overturned some of his convictions, despite not reducing his sentence.
The war in Bosnia was one of the most violent clashes of the 1990s. Roughly 100,000 people died and over two million were displaced. The fighting mainly pitted Bosnian Muslims against Bosnian Serbs, although Bosnian Croats also fought against Bosnian Muslims after an alliance had fallen apart. Current Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic said of Parljak: “His act, which we regrettably saw today, mostly speaks about a deep moral injustice towards six Croats from Bosnia and the Croatian people … We voice dissatisfaction and regret about the verdict.” (here is a quick summary of the wildly complex war in the Balkans for the uninitiated)
Here is video of the events at The Hague. It is not graphic, and without the audio, it simply looks like a man throwing back a shot, but authorities confirmed his death via poisoning.
The news cycle has become impossible for all of us to adequately follow. We still haven’t figured out what happened in Las Vegas during one of the most deliberate and destructive acts of terror this country has ever seen. In a normal world, that atrocity wouldn’t leave the front pages, but it was gone by the end of the week. We see this dynamic play out every single day, and this insane story of Parljak smuggling poison into an international tribunal barely got any coverage before Trump covfefe’d it off the front pages of the web.
We need to all step back and take a breath from time to time. It’s hard to tell if we live in especially frantic times, or if the Internet has just fundamentally changed our relationship with information, but it’s definitely harder to process a broad range of news these days. A convicted war criminal killing himself on camera satisfies both the hard news angle (because the war in Bosnia was a devastating conflict which still reverberates to this day) as well as the clickbait cycle (holy crap this man killed himself on camera), but it still got lost in the shuffle of Trumpian madness that has become our unreality.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.