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Bosnian Muslims Protest Against UN Tribunal Ruling

Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic in 2003
SARAJEVO (Reuters) -- About 200 Bosnian Muslim relatives of victims of the 1992-95 war protested have against the UN war crimes tribunal's decision to grant early release to former President Biljana Plavsic.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) decided to release Plavsic, a former Bosnian Serb President, after she served two-thirds of an 11-year sentence for persecuting Muslims during the war.

"They don't think about the blood of so many of our children, whom we are still digging out of mass graves," said Kada Hotic, a mother still searching for a son who went missing in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims.

"Nobody feels sorry for them, but they feel sorry for Plavsic, who spent her prison days very comfortably, writing books, and memoirs," Hotic said.

Plavsic, a close associate of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, pleaded guilty at her trial to persecutions on political, racial, and religious grounds.

The relatives and wartime detainees who came from across Bosnia also protested before the UN office in Sarajevo against the court's decision to trim the scope of the case against Karadzic, indicted for genocide in the Bosnian war.

Protesters carried banners and burned pictures of Karadzic and tribunal judges. They called for the resignation of tribunal judge O-Gon Kwon, who last week asked prosecutors to cut Karadzic's indictment to avoid an over-lengthy trial.

Zumreta Sehomerovic of an association of Srebrenica mothers said: "The Hague tribunal is politically corrupted, punishing the victims and awarding the criminals."

But while Bosnian Muslims, the biggest victims of the Bosnian war in which more than 100,000 people were killed, were outraged at Plavsic's release, Bosnian Serbs celebrated.

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik traveled to Sweden, where Plavsic is being detained, to visit the woman who installed him as a prime minister after Karadzic left politics in the late 1990s.

Dodik caused public outcry last weekend when he denied hundreds of civilians were killed and wounded in the Bosnian Serb wartime shelling of the northern town of Tuzla and the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in 1995.