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UN: Albright Begins Testimony In Plavsic Hearing

The Hague, 17 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has begun testifying before a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague during the second day of a hearing to determine the sentence for former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic. Albright is the most senior U.S. official yet to testify before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She appears as what the tribunal is calling a "common witness," i.e., a witness neither for the defense nor for the prosecution.

During her testimony, Albright described her horror when she heard of killings, rapes, confinement in concentration camps, and torture of non-Serbs during the Bosnian conflict.

Plavsic could face life in prison after pleading guilty to crimes against humanity for persecutions of Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the 1992-95 conflict, which left 200,000 dead or missing. Plavsic has acknowledged that she covered up crimes and ignored widespread allegations of criminal acts.

"A recognition of this court is essential, and what Mrs. Plavsic has done is to plead guilty and recognize the authority of this court. I think that is very important," Albright said.