The Hague, 17 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic today asked the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague to grant her a just sentence, but also to provide justice for the victims of Bosnia's 1992-95 war. Plavsic, who pleaded guilty to charges of persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, addressed the tribunal during a hearing to determine her sentence. Plavsic admitted that thousands of innocent people were victims of efforts to remove non-Serbs from Serbian-controlled territory in Bosnia.
Plavsic said she was one of many Serbian leaders who were "blinded" by fear of the persecution Serbs themselves suffered during World War II.
Earlier today, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright testified that Plavsic bore responsibility for crimes committed in Bosnia during her presidency. But Albright also said Plavsic later played an important role in Bosnia's peace process.
"I found her [Plavsic] a very, kind of, conflicted individual, if I might say, in terms of knowing that she wanted to make sure that Serb interests were protected but, at the same time, understanding the necessity of going through with the Dayton [peace-accords] process, which, I think, she really stood up for in many different ways, but I think she obviously was involved in horrendous things prior to that and then began to see that the Dayton accords were the best way to accomplish what was necessary."
Albright also credited Plavsic for pleading guilty and recognizing the authority of the UN tribunal.