Former Bosnian Serb President strikes plea agreement with UN tribunal
Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic has struck a plea agreement with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), pleading guilty to some charges of crimes against humanity, the UN court announced today.
“By accepting responsibility and expressing her remorse fully and unconditionally, Mrs. Plavsic hopes to offer some consolation to the innocent victims – Muslim, Croat and Serb – of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said a statement issued by her lawyers. “Mrs. Plavsic invites others, especially leaders on any side of the conflict, to examine themselves and their own conduct.”
The statement said that Mrs. Plavsic’s acknowledgement of guilt was “individual and personal” and that legal responsibility “could only be borne by persons individually, based upon individual acts and conduct.”
Her recognition “reflects this principle and affirms that the legal responsibility of an individual, even if he or she is a leader, cannot be attributed to a group of people,” the statement said. “Her acceptance of this responsibility will, she hopes, enable her people to move past the carnage of the past decade, to reconcile with their neighbours, and, ultimately, to restore their dignity as a respected people.”
Her chief lawyer, Robert Pavich, noted that the plea agreement did not include a deal for Mrs. Plavsic to testify in any case pending before the Tribunal or for any sentencing recommendations. “Mrs. Plavsic understands, as the agreement itself specifically provides, that she is subjecting herself to a possible sentence of life imprisonment,” he said.
According to the indictment, Mrs. Plavsic, who had been charged with eight counts of war crimes, was a leading member of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a close associate of Radovan Karadzic and Momcilo Krajisnik. She was a member of the collective Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 18 November 1990 until April 1992, during which she became one of the two acting Presidents of the so-called Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The indictment accuses the three of pursuing a course of conduct involving “the creation of impossible conditions of life, persecution and terror tactics in order to encourage non-Serbs to leave the area, deportation of those reluctant to leave, and the liquidation of others.” From late March 1992, Bosnian Serb forces seized physical control of many of the municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina that had been proclaimed part of the “Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”