Sweden refuses pardon for former Serb leader

Former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic has been refused a pardon by Sweden's government, meaning she will remain in Hingseberg jail, central Sweden.

Plavsic, 76, was convicted in 2003 of crimes against humanity and sentenced to eleven years in jail. The international Bosnia war crimes tribunal in the Hague ruled that as president she had persecuted Bosnian Muslims and Croats between 1992 and 1995.

Around 200,000 people died in the war, while many more were driven from their homes as a result of ethnic cleansing. Plavsic was at that time rabidly anti-Muslim. She supported and encouraged the persecution, but has since said she regrets what she did.

Last year Plavsic applied to the Swedish government for a pardon. She pointed to her poor state of health, adding that she did not want to spend her days with “prostitutes, murderers, drug dealers, drug addicts, robbers and thieves.”

Her application was supported by Bosnia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Milos M Prica, who claimed that the standard of prison accommodation was much better in the Hague than in Sweden.

Shortly after her arrival in Sweden Plavsic was quoted in Serbian media complaining that air was pumped into her cell by the prison’s ventilation system with such pressure that she was “denied the right to breathe normally.”

Prison authorities say that Plavsic is being treated the same as the other 85 prisoners, with the exception that her age means she is excused having to work.