Muslim Wire

War criminal freed after six years’ jail

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 29, 2009

Early release ... Biljana Plavsic arrives in Belgrade. Photo: APBRUSSELS: The sole Bosnian Serb political leader to plead guilty to war crimes in the 1992-95 conflict has been released from a Swedish prison after serving six years in jail for crimes against humanity.

Biljana Plavsic, a former president of the Serbian half of Bosnia and a close colleague of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader whose trial is under way at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, flew from Stockholm to Belgrade.

Wearing a fur coat and blowing kisses to the crowds greeting her, Ms Plavsic arrived in the Serbian capital on Tuesday, accompanied by the Bosnian Serb Prime Minister, Milorad Dodik. She was driven to her flat in the city.

”I’m happy to be here … but, after nine years in prison, I don’t know what will happen,” she said.

Ms Plavsic, an extreme Serbian nationalist who was notoriously photographed embracing the late warlord Arkan alongside dead Bosnian Muslims at the beginning of the war, reached a plea bargain with prosecutors in The Hague and received an 11-year sentence in 2003. She voluntarily surrendered to the tribunal in 2001 and remained in custody.

She had faced eight charges, including two of genocide. All the most serious charges against her were dropped in return for her admission of remorse and guilt.

A biologist and former Sarajevo University professor, Ms Plavsic was one of the original troika of hardline Bosnian Serb leaders around Dr Karadzic at the start of the Yugoslav wars in 1991. She was revered by Bosnian Serb nationalists, who named her their Iron Lady and Serbian Queen. Many Bosnian Muslims are sure her remorse was aimed purely at gaining a light sentence. However, Bosnian Muslim victims in The Hague to witness the beginning of the Karadzic trial were generous towards Ms Plavsic, who is 79.

”She’s served her sentence and she’s at the end of her life. I think it’s OK she’s been released,” said Nezira Sulejmanovic, from Srebrenica, whose two sons and daughter were killed by Serbian forces in the war. ”She’s just waiting for the end of her life. Let her be.”

But others were critical of the decision to grant her early release. ”Unfortunately, this is how much justice we can get in today’s world,” said Ejup Ganic, a former Bosnian Muslim president.

Ms Plavsic will enjoy police protection in Belgrade.

Guardian News & Media

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