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Bosnia's Plavsic on war crimes charges

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CNN) -- The former Bosnian Serb president has been indicted on war crimes charges by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Biljana Plavsic, 70, known as the "Iron Lady of the Balkans" and president between 1996 and 1998, is expected to appear before the tribunal on Wednesday.

Her attorney told CNN's Alessio Vinci that it was likely the indictment would relate to war crimes committed in Bosnia in 1992.

Krstan Simic travelled to The Hague with Plavsic and says she was aware that she had been indicted "in secret" by the war crimes tribunal in 1992.

It is believed that her indictment is connected to that of Momcilo Krajisnik, the former Bosnian Parliament Speaker, who was arrested in Bosnia last year and has been in custody since. Krajisnik was indicted on charges of "crimes against humanity" and "war crimes."

She is expected to be in The Hague for at least a week and appear before the court several times. Simic says the her trial is not expected to begin until November 2001.

Main developments
Plavsic is handed indictment in written form
Charges include genocide and crimes against humanity
Plavsic knew before court appearance she would be indicted
Plavsic lawyer says she voluntarily decided to co-operate with tribunal
She is expected to stay in The Hague for some time
Trial not expected to begin before November 2001
From CNN Belgrade bureau
 
  AUDIO
Vinci

Allesio Vinci discusses events surrounding Plasvic's indictment

696K/58 sec.
AIFF or WAV sound

Vinci

Christiane Amanpour: "Her nationalism was known far and wide during the war."

766K/65 sec.
AIFF or WAV sound
 

Plavsic held a top Bosnian Serb leadership position during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war and was closely linked to other Bosnian Serb leaders who have since been indicted for war crimes.

The war that led to dozens of Bosnian Serbs being indicted as war criminals for the murder and torture of tens of thousands of Muslims and Croats.

CNN's Vinci said following the indictment, Plavsic had a choice of going into hiding or co-operating with war crimes investigators.

"When Plavsic left for The Hague yesterday she already knew she was going to be indicted," he added.

He said in recent years she had become closer to the West after breaking ties with hardliners in 1997.

"She gained international support for criticising them and accusing Bosnian Serb hardliners of corruption and profiteering."

He said that in recent times Plavsic has become less outspoken and has supported Western-backed candidates during recent elections is Bosnia.

But she has also retained her nationalistic views and often criticises arrests of alleged war criminals by NATO in Bosnia.

CNN's Zain Verjee said that during the war, Plavsic asserted that Serbs were racially superior to Croats and Muslims.

She was also a key aide to Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs who was also indicted for war crimes by the international court.

He remains at large, as does the former military commander of the Bosnian Serbs, Ratko Mladic, who has also been indicted. Another prominent figure Momcilo Kkrajisnk was arrested last year.

The United States has welcomed her decision to go The Hague. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said: I understand she intends to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal.

"I respect her for living up to what we think is an international obligation an is going to do the right thing."



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Hard-liner is new Bosnian Serb president
November 24, 2000
Bosnian envoy calls for Karadzic arrest
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Milosevic 'may be tried in Serbia'
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Bosnia war crimes suspect kills himself
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RELATED SITES:
Bosnia War Crimes Tribunal
Major War Criminals/Suspects
Governments on the WWW: Bosnia and Herzegovina

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