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War criminal Plavsic lifts off from Sweden

AFP/The Local · 27 Oct 2009, 20:41

Published: 27 Oct 2009 12:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Oct 2009 20:41 GMT+01:00

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"Plavsic was transported this morning to Arlanda (airport)," Swedish Prison and Probation Service director Lars Nylen said in a statement, adding that she boarded the plane and left the country.

Plavsic, 79, landed shortly after 2pm at Belgrade airport and immediately left for her apartment in the Serbian capital, accompanied by Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik.

Upon arriving at her home, Plavsic, who also has Serbian citizenship, briefly said she would spend some time with her brother and sister-in-law, B92 television reported.

"I am happy to be free after nine years," she said, adding that she would "soon" talk to the press.

Plavsic was sentenced in February 2003 to 11 years behind bars after she admitted playing a leading role in a campaign of persecution against Croats and Muslims during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

She is the highest ranking official of the former Yugoslavia to have acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

She served her sentence at a women's prison in Sweden, where the government last week confirmed she would become eligible for release on Tuesday after serving two-thirds of her term, in accordance with Swedish law.

The release caused an immediate backlash in neighbouring Bosnia. The Croat chairman of the country's tripartite presidency Zeljko Komsic cancelled a November 4-8 official visit to Sweden in protest.

"The Swedish government released Plavsic because it wanted to and not because it had to," Komsic said in a statement released in Sarajevo.

The decision is "particularly unacceptable and embarrassing" as Foreign Minister Carl Bildt had acted as a witness for Plavsic's defence, visited her in prison and took part in the decision on her release, he said.

Around 30 prisoners sewed their lips together in a protest at Bosnia's top security jail in the central town of Zenica.

The prisoners, jailed for various criminal offences, were protesting Plavsic's early release while they were "deprived of that right for a number of years already," the prison said on its website.

Plavsic surrendered to the UN war crimes tribunal in January 2001 after it had issued an indictment for genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, deportation and inhumane acts.

She struck a plea agreement with prosecutors in October 2002 in which she "admitted to supporting and contributing to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of ethnic populations by force."

She had expressed remorse and a behavioural report showed she had "exhibited good behaviour" in prison, the war crimes court said. "She has participated in the institution's walks and she also occupies herself by cooking and baking."

"Biljana Plavsic was happy about being released and that was all she cared about at that moment. She thanked the prison personnel and boarded the plane. What happens after this is up to her to say," Nylen said.

Story continues below…

Known as the "Iron Lady" for her ruthless leadership, the former ally of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was a fiery nationalist who during the war publicly supported the campaign of persecutions of non-Serbs.

But the former biology professor underwent an extraordinary pragmatic conversion in 1996, which saw her cooperate with the international community, turning the tables on her mentor Karadzic -- now on trial for genocide -- who was forced to resign.

It was this post-war conduct together with her surprise guilty plea to the tribunal that the judges considered to be seriously mitigating circumstances.

Her release came on the second day of Karadzic's genocide trial in The Hague which the 64-year-old has so far boycotted, demanding more time to prepare his defence.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:45 October 27, 2009 by peropaco
Serving her time in a Swedish prison for women is probably the closest thing one could get to Disneyland. She was responsible for ordering the massacre of 1000's of people and she only served 6 years? What a joke
20:05 October 27, 2009 by israeli
talking about swedish justice, does any body know if there is any swedish person that was convicted with holocauste-denying? does any muslim that used violence against israelis over the last years got his punishment?

is there any law against antisemitism and anti-israeli propoganda anywhere in israel? is sweden a friend to the jews and israel or a foe?
22:53 October 27, 2009 by peropaco
Israeli. To answer a few of your questions. Sweden is no friend to Jews neither to Israel and they will never be. It is manifested each day through the media and by the leaders. To be honest, Swedes are much more anti Jews than any radical muslim you will ever meet.
03:52 October 28, 2009 by maxbrando
Nobody the USA gives a rat's ass about Bosnia/Servia/Croatia anymore. But, if I have to go to jail one of the Nordic countries is the place.!!
08:46 October 28, 2009 by speedygonzales
She made a deal with prosecutor, she didn't order anything, soldiers kill whom they want in war. If you don't believe, ask your soldiers in Iraq or Avganistan. Million civilians are killed in Iraq in last six years of war and I don't see that any of Western generals is judged for it.
09:10 October 28, 2009 by Leprehcaun
@ israeli

You're hate propaganda and pathetic attempts to insult Swedes are laughable. I have met anyone in Sweden who even doubts that the holocaust happened and as much as you can't accept it Swedes don't see favorably on any holocaust denier.

There is no law against denying the holocaust; I think that's only illegal in Germany and possibly in Israel. No one has ever been convicted for denying the holocaust in e.g. Sweden, France, Britain or the USA (because it's not illegal).

"granted early release from a Swedish prison by the UN war crimes court,"

UN justice; NOT Swedish! Come on, read! Jeeze..

Sweden isn't.. haha.. a foe of Israel or Jews.. HAHA! But because of people like you I'd be damned if we were ever to become "friends"; as long as there are as many nationalists and fanatics like yourself in Israel I'm never going to let that happen either.

@ peropaco

No. Swedes aren't anti-semites. I but I love that you hate us. That you hate us feels as good as if e.g. .. well as good as if Hitler would have said that. No one with half a brain believes the nonsense that you spew on TL so why do you do it? It's ridiculous.
09:29 October 28, 2009 by dusan

Have you ever been in "Swedish prison for women" so you know how it is?

Have you ever been in Disneyland?

She was inprisoned for more than 6 years.

She never ordered the massacre.

And, after all, Serbian Army in Bosnia have fought, among others, the same enemy Swedish Army fights today in Afghanistan - Mujahideen. Good luck!
09:32 October 28, 2009 by peropaco
Leprehcaun, it seems you are confusing yourself again as it is apparent you do believe what I wrote otherwise you wouldnt be so discomposed. So maybe you have half a brain; knäppskalle ;-))). Yes, Swedes are anti-Jews from SVT, all the media outlets straight up to Riksdag.
21:21 July 14, 2010 by lpcyu
What It's Like to Chill Out With Whom the World Considers the Most Ruthless Men in the World Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and Goran Hadzic (+) Confessions of a Female War Crimes Investigator

Retrospectively, it was all so simple, natural and matter of fact being on a boat restaurant in Belgrade, sitting with, laughing, drinking a two hundred bottle of wine and chatting about war and peace while Ratko Mladic held my hand. Mladic, a man considered the world's most ruthless war criminal since Adolf Hitler, still at large and currently having a five million dollar bounty on his head for genocide by the international community. Yet there I was with my two best friends at the time, a former Serbian diplomat, his wife, and Ratko Mladic just chilling. There was no security, nothing you'd ordinarily expect in such circumstances. Referring to himself merely as, Sharko; this is the story of it all came about.


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