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Bosnian president angry over war criminal release

Bosnian president angry over war criminal release

Bosnia's top official canceled a diplomatic visit to Sweden on Wednesday, angry that the Swedish government chose to grant Bosnian Serb war criminal Biljana Plavsic an early release from jail.
Plavsic, the former Bosnian Serb president, was freed Tuesday from a Swedish prison after serving two-thirds of an 11-year jail term for crimes against humanity during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.
More than 100,000 people were killed during the conflict, most of them by Bosnian Serb forces.
President Zeljko Komsic said he will not go to Stockholm because although Swedish law offers the possibility of early release, the government had to actively make that choice. Komsic, chairman of Bosnia's three-person presidency, was supposed to meet King Carl XVI Gustaf during a four-day visit starting Nov. 4.
"The Swedish government wanted to do it, it was not forced to do it," Komsic said in a statement.
Other Muslim Bosniak and Croat officials as well as the media expressed outrage over the early release and the fact that Plavsic flew from Sweden to Belgrade on a Bosnian Serb government jet bought with tax money from some of her victims, who still live in the Bosnian Serb republic.
Plavsic was warmly welcomed in Belgrade by Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik.
Komsic also called the behavior of the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt "unacceptable and compromising for the Swedish government." Bildt, he said, testified at the U.N. war crimes tribunal to Plavsic's benefit, visited her in jail in Sweden and took part in the decision for her to be released early.
Komsic had urged the Swedish government and parliament last September not to grant the early release, saying it would be a mistake to show this kind of mercy shown to a person who committed the worst crimes against humanity.
A headline in the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz said "Victims paid for the flight to Belgrade," and the daily Oslobodjenje had a photo of Dodik holding Plavsic by the hand with a headline "Flown by Dodik's plane to freedom."
In Belgrade, Dodik defended his decision to send a government jet to pick up Plavsic, saying "it was a moral thing to do." He said Plavsic will remain in Belgrade for now but stay out of political life.
"She has served her time in jail, and she's now a free person," Dodik said.
Plavsic, 79, is the only woman among the 161 people indicted by the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia.
She had pleaded guilty to a single count of persecution _ a crime against humanity _ as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign to drive Muslims and Croats out of Serb-controlled areas of Bosnia. Her guilty plea was part of a plea bargain to have other charges, including genocide, dropped.
Plavsic was then transferred to Sweden to serve her sentence.
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Associated Press writers Jovana Gec in Belgrade contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-28 08:36 GMT+08:00