Former Bosnian Serb leader Plavsic released from prison | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 27.10.2009
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Former Bosnian Serb leader Plavsic released from prison

The former Bosnian Serb president, Biljana Plavsic, has been released on parole after serving two-thirds of her 11-year sentence for war crimes.

Archive photo of Biljana Plavsic

Plavsic pleaded guilty to one count of persecution

Biljana Plavsic arrived in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, after leaving Sweden on a flight from Stockholm's Arlanda airport on Tuesday.

Plavsic left Sweden shortly after being released from a women's prison, where she had been serving her sentence. After getting the 'green light' from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the Swedish government last week approved her release, citing Swedish law, which allows an inmate who has served two-thirds of a sentence to be paroled. Just last December, an appeal by Plavsic for early release on health grounds was rejected.

Plavsic was charged with crimes against humanity

Dubbed the "Iron Lady" for her ruthless leadership, the 79-year-old former ally of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was a fervent nationalist who publicly supported the persecution of non-Serbs.

More than 7,000 Moslems were murdered at Srebrenica by Bosnian Serbs

The 1995 Srebrenica massacre was the most notorious war crime committed in Bosnia

She surrendered to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in January 2001 after it issued an indictment for genocide, murder, persecution and other crimes against humanity.

Plavsic was sentenced in February 2003 to 11 years in jail for her role in the campaigns of ethnic cleansing against Croats and Moslems during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Before accepting that verdict, however, she had struck a plea bargain with prosecutors a few months earlier in which she admitted to only one count of persecution for "supporting and contributing to the removal of ethnic populations by force" in return for a reduced sentence.

Plavsic is the highest ranking official from the former Yugoslavia to have acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed in the Balkan wars.

The director general of Sweden's Prison and Probation Service, Lars Nylen, said Plavsic had expressed remorse and "exhibited good behavior." He added that she was "happy to be released and thanked the prison personnel, but what happens next is up to her to say."

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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