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Bosnian Serb War Criminal Granted Early Release

Biljana Plavsic
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -- The Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague has granted a request for the early release of former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic after serving two-thirds of an 11-year sentence for war crimes.

Plavsic was convicted in February 2003 of persecuting Bosnian Muslims in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, but will have served two-thirds of her sentence in October, making her eligible for parole under laws in Sweden, where she is being detained.

Judge Patrick Robinson at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said that Plavsic should be granted early release as she is entitled to under Swedish law, "notwithstanding the gravity of her crimes."

Persons convicted at the ICTY do not serve their sentence at the Hague-based tribunal's detention unit as it is not a penitentiary. They are instead transferred to a prison outside of the Netherlands to serve their time.

Plavsic had been one of three members of Presidency of the Serbian Republic, headed by Radovan Karadzic, who is due to go on trial at the tribunal in October on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide at Srebrenica.

She pleaded guilty at her trial to persecutions on political, racial, and religious grounds by "inviting paramilitaries from Serbia to assist Bosnian Serb forces in effecting ethnic separation by force."

As part of the plea bargaining, charges of genocide, extermination and murder were stripped from her indictment.