Victims outraged by Bosnian Serb 'Iron Lady' early release

16th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Biljana Plavsic will be granted early release from her 11-year jail term for good behaviour and apparent rehabilitation.

Sarajevo -- Muslim victims of Bosnia's war voiced outrage Tuesday at the UN war crimes court's decision to grant early release to a Bosnian Serb ex-president convicted of crimes against humanity.

"It might be in line with international law, but it has nothing to do with justice," Murat Tahirovic, head of an association of Muslim and Croat war camp prisoners, told AFP.

"How can we explain this to children whose parents had been killed (in Serb-run camps), children who remember their parents only from photos," he said.

The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced Tuesday that Biljana Plavsic should be granted early release from her 11-year jail term for good behaviour and apparent rehabilitation.

The 79-year-old is serving her sentence in a Swedish prison and under Sweden's law becomes eligible for release from October 27, after serving two-thirds of her term. The tribunal has the final say in the matter.

The Bosnian Serb "Iron Lady" was sentenced in February 2003 after she admitted playing a leading role in a campaign of persecution against Croats and Muslims during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

She is the highest ranking official of the former Yugoslavia to have acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed in the 1990s wars that accompanied the former federation's break up.

"How is it possible that Plavsic has the right to freedom and I do not have the right to find and bury bones of my son 14 years after he had been brutally killed," said Munira Subasic, head of an association of survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

"The only explanation I can find is that the world supports crime and criminals," she added.

In Europe's single worst atrocity since World War II, Bosnian Serb forces killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys after capturing Srebrenica in July 1995.

The remains of thousands of the victims have been exhumed from about 70 mass graves around the eastern town and many more are yet to be found.

The victims of wartime rape by Serb soldiers said they were "shocked and dismayed" by the court's decision.

"This is sad. It proves that the world approves genocide and aggression," said Bakira Hasecic, head of an association gathering Muslim and Croat rape victims.

"Thousand died because of her, but still she has the right to spend the rest of her life in freedom," she added.

Meanwhile, Serbs and Plavsic’s family welcomed the tribunal's move.

"We are still excited and stunned. We talked to her last night and she did not know anything," Vasilija, the wife of Plavsic's brother Zdravko, told the SRNA news agency in the Serbian capital Belgrade. "We thank them (the judges) for deciding so."

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said he would visit Plavsic in her Swedish jail on Wednesday while a member of a committee advocating her pardon, said the ICTY's decision was "expected."

"Despite all the injustices that she has been facing during the past years, we hope that on October 27 Biljana Plavsic will be free, at Belgrade airport where we will prepare her a warm welcome.

"She deserved such a welcome," Svetozar Mihajlovic told SRNA.

Post-war Bosnia consists of two entities, the Serbs' Republika Srpska (RS) and the Muslim-Croat Federation. Each entity has its own government and they share a weak central administration.

Sabina Niksic/AFP/Expatica

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