Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Plavsic Release Request

By Katherine Boyle in The Hague (TU No 474, 27-Oct-06)
On October 24, the Swedish foreign ministry confirmed that there had been a request for Plavsic’s release, but they did not disclose who it was from.

The Swedish news agency TT reported this week that the request came in a letter from Prica, dated September 6, in which he appealed for Plavsic to be released from the Hinseberg prison “for the sake of human understanding and compassion,” noting her poor health and advanced age.

Plavsic, 76, is currently serving an 11-year sentence handed down by the Hague tribunal’s judges in December 2002 for her role in the crimes committed against Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats during the 1991-95 war.

Prica also reportedly described the Hinseberg conditions as worse than those in The Hague, where Plavsic was held after she surrendered to the Yugoslav tribunal in 2001.

Prica is a former colleague of Plavsic, having served as her chief of cabinet between 1996 and 1998, when she was president of the Republika Srpska

Justice ministry spokesman Rickard Wessman told reporters that the request for Plavsic’s release was being processed.

However, Bosnia’s foreign ministry deny the letter came from their office.

“Bosnia’s Ambassador to the UN in New York, Milos Prica, did not use Bosnian state symbols or his title to support such a request,” the ministry said in an official statement.

A warden at Hinseberg, Britt-Marie Johansson, defended the conditions at the prison, telling the news agency Associated Press that Plavsic was staying at “a newly built housing unit, which has a toilet and shower in each room”.

She added that inmates were allowed 1.5 hours per day to wander around a lakeside park on the Hinseberg premises.

A prominent Swedish expert in international law told Swedish Radio News that Plavsic’s release could “undermine cooperation with international tribunals” if she is allowed to leave having only completed three years of her sentence.

Plavsic, the only woman to have been convicted of war crimes by the Hague tribunal, was known to be a close associate of former Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, who recently received a 27-year-sentence for war crimes.

She was also a close associate of notorious former Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, who remains at large since being indicted by the Hague court in November 2005.

In 2002, Plavsic pleaded guilty to one count of persecutions on political racial and religious grounds, a crime against humanity.

She was transferred to Hinseberg in Sweden in June 2003 to serve her 11-year sentence.

Katherine Boyle is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, IWPR’s network of local reporters, activists and analysts are examining the economic, social and political impact of this era-defining pandemic.