UN tribunal sentences former Bosnian Serb president to11 years

27 February 2003

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today sentenced former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic to 11 years in prison for crimes against humanity.

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today sentenced former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic to 11 years in prison for crimes against humanity.

Mrs. Plavsic, 72, struck a plea agreement with the court last year, admitting to planning, instigating, aiding and abetting persecutions of the Muslim, Croat and other non-Serb populations in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the country's civil war from 1992 to 1995. She is the highest-ranking official from the former Yugoslavia to plead guilty to war crimes.

Although Mrs. Plavsic did not conceive the policy of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and had a lesser role it than some other Bosnian Serb leaders, she had supported it, disregarded reports of inhumane treatment, and publicly rationalized and justified those crimes, Judge Richard May said in the Tribunal's sentencing judgment. "No sentence can fully reflect the horror of what occurred or the terrible impact on thousands of victims," he added.

While stressing that Mrs. Plavsic participated in “a crime of the utmost gravity,” which brutally “destroyed countless lives and communities,” and that “misplaced leniency would not be fitting,” the court acknowledged that her guilty plea – together with remorse and reconciliation, voluntary surrender, post-conflict conduct and age – were substantial mitigating circumstances.

Her guilty plea and acknowledgement of responsibility "should promote reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region as a whole," Judge May said. He noted that that theme was first sounded by Mrs. Plavsic herself in a statement in support of her change of plea in which she referred to the need for acknowledging the crimes committed during the war as a necessary step towards peace and reconciliation, and voiced the hope that her acceptance of responsibility would enable her people to reconcile with their neighbours.

 

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