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Former Bosnian Serb president Plavsic appeals for pardon


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday January 17, 2007


Stockholm- Former Bosnian Serb president, Biljana Plavsic,
who is serving a 11-year jail term for crimes against humanity has
asked for pardon, a justice official said Wednesday.
Plavsic, 76, was convicted in 2003 by the UN war crimes tribunal
for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for crimes committed during the Bosnian
war from 1992 to 1995.

She is serving the sentence at Hinseberg prison, 200 kilometres
west of Stockholm. Sweden signed a 1999 agreement with the UN
tribunal to offer prison space for convicted war criminals.

Justice official Lars Brandt said the ministry received a Swedish
translation of her appeal "this week," adding he could not say how
long the appeal would take to process.

Saying she was "ill and poorly", Plavsic asked for a pardon.

In the four-page letter dated November 27, Plavsic said she could
not understand why she had to serve her sentence "among prostitutes,
murderers, drug dealers, robbers, thieves, swindlers" and complained
that she was subjected to undergo body searches like other inmates.

Plavsic said she was suffering from hypertension caused by the
pressure she was under, and sciatica, and in 2004 had sustained a
broken arm when trying to flee from two inmates who threatened her.

Deputy prison governor Karl-Anders Lonnberg told Deutsche Presse-
Agentur dpa that wardens who witnessed the incident when she stumbled
were not able to support Plavsic's claims that she was threatened.

Lonnberg added that Plavsic was held "under the same rules as
other inmates" and searches were conducted as part of security
procedures.

The prison had investigated her complaints about ventilation and
bad smells in her cell and concluded that the ventilation was "not
faulty" while the smell was likely linked to a nearby paper mill.

Citing confidentiality rules, Lonnberg said he could not comment
on Plavsic's health or psychological status but said she had free
access to medical staff.

Last October, Bosnia's ambassador to the United Nations, Milos
Prica, wrote an appeal to Swedish authorities, saying Plavsic was
"ill" and that conditions in the Swedish prison where she was serving
her sentence were "poor in comparison with those she experienced in
The Hague."

An appeal for Plavsic's release was also signed at the time by
Michael Djordevich, former head of the Serbian Unity Congress who
Prica described as a "prominent person from the Serbian diaspora in
the United States."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt - who testified on behalf of
Plavsic during her trial - has earlier said that other members of the
government would eventually deal with the application.

Sweden must also notify the UN tribunal in the event of a possible
decision to pardon or reduce the sentence.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency