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

Sweden Rejects Plavsic Pardon Request

By Merdijana Sadovic (TU No 499, 27-Apr-07)
Sweden this week rejected an appeal for a pardon by former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic, who is serving her 11-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity there.

Plavsic, 76, was convicted by the Hague tribunal's judges in December 2002 for her role in the crimes committed against Bosnia's Muslims and Croats during the country’s 1992-95 war.

She is serving her sentence at Hinseberg prison, 200 kilometres west of Stockholm, where she was transferred in June 2003.

Last October, 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".

Plavsic said she was suffering from hypertension caused by the pressure

she was under, and claimed her arm was broken when she tried to flee from two inmates who allegedly threatened her.

Prison authorities rejected Plavsic's claims, adding she was treated the same as the other 85 prisoners, with the exception that her age means she is excused from having to work.

Bosnia's ambassador to the United Nations, Milos Prica, sent a letter to the Swedish foreign ministry last September, in which he said Plavsic should be released from Hinseberg prison "for the sake of human understanding and compassion", noting her poor health and advanced age.

But legal experts in Sweden strongly opposed this request, saying Plavsic's release after having completed only three years of her sentence, would "undermine cooperation with international tribunals".

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 former Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, who has been at large since he was indicted in 1995.

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

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s Hague programme manager.