Skip to main content
ad info

Middle East Asia-pacific Africa Europe Americas    world > europe world map
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

4:30pm ET, 4/16


End of the line for Plavsic?

LONDON, England (CNN) - Biljana Plavsic's surrender to the U.N. war crimes tribunal comes four years after she described the court's efforts as a threat to peace.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on January 9, 1997, the then-president of "Republika Srpska" warned that any attempt to arrest two fellow Bosnian Serbs could spark "massive civil and military unrest."

Taking aim at the tribunal, Plavsic implied the court lacked the legitimacy to arrest her predecessor as Bosnian Serb president, Radovan Karadzic, or his former army general, Ratko Mladic.

She argued, in essence, that with the fighting over in Bosnia and no further war crimes being reported, the court's mandate - and moral authority -- had expired.

Plavsic Iron lady of the Balkans
  •  Profile of Biljana Plavsic
  •  End of the line for Plavsic?
  •  Plavsic on the record
  •  Plavsic: The Serb empress
  •  War crimes charges
  •  Chat: Amanpour

Plavsic is charged with genocide.

237K/24 sec.
AIFF or WAV sound

Yet as Plavsic answered "not guilty" to nine counts of war crimes at the Hague on Thursday, the impression was of a woman who, in the view of many observers, may have reached the end of the line herself.

Suddenly, the biology professor who has described Muslims as "genetically deformed" and expressed fears that mixed marriages could lead to "a degeneration of Serb nationhood," must confront the fallout from an ideology she espoused with such fervour.

Plavsic comes before the court at an auspicious time, according to some analysts. Slobodan Milosevic is out of power and Yugoslavia has a new leadership, apparently wedded to democratic principles, yet equally determined to uphold the integrity of Serbia and its people.

"(Vojislav) Kostunica supported everything the Bosnian Serb leadership did throughout the war," said one London-based Bosnia expert who requested anonymity. "In (Plavsic's) point of view, this is a safe climate in which to go to the Hague. The West's indulgence towards Kostunica indicated it is a good time to go."

But, judging from her past statements, Plavsic might bristle at the idea that political calculation were behind her timing.

'I am not afraid at all'

In an interview with the Serbian newsweekly, NIN, last June, shortly after the dissolution of her Serb National Alliance party, Plavsic showed a flash of defiance when asked whether she was afraid of a secret indictment against her.

Two months earlier, NATO troops had arrested a senior figure from the Bosnian Serb wartime command, Momcilo Krajisnik, and rumours abounded in Banja Luka, where Plavsic was based, that she could be next.

"I am not afraid at all," Plavsic said in the interview. "I mean, as far as secret indictments are concerned …I don't need a secret indictment. Just let them send it here nicely and I will go there immediately. In a civilised manner.

"If 20,000 young people gave their lives for this republic, why should I be anything special? If there is any reason for me to be indicted, that is."

Among Plavsic's immediate political cohorts, there is little doubt that Plavsic's willingness to turn herself in to the tribunal - a move shunned so far by both Karadzic and Mladic - is a sign that she has nothing to hide.

"Mrs Plavsic is a highly moral person, exceptionally respected, an intellectual, and if she agreed (to surrender) it is certain she is not a liar," Mira Lolic, a political colleague, told Reuters on Thursday in Banja Luka, Plavsic's political base.

At one point, Lolic said: "During the reading of the indictment (Plavsic) said she does not feel guilty and all of us at the Serb People's Alliance are sure that she is not guilty on all charges."

The London-based Bosnia observer, who met Plavsic shortly after the war, said he came away with the impression that she had sorely miscalculated - and knew it.

"They thought the (war) would be over quickly, but it all got bogged down …People like Plavsic had much bigger goals, then she decided to cooperate with the West …She seemed somehow a bit bewildered and out of her depth."

Bosnia's Plavsic denies genocide
January 11, 2001
Plavsic: The Iron Lady who turned
January 10, 2001
A look at the most wanted U.N. war crimes suspects still at large
April 4, 2000
Nationalist victor in Bosnia Serb vote vows to respect peace pact
September 26, 1998
West wants elections to end Bosnian Serb power struggle
August 16, 1997

UN War Crimes Tribunal: charges against Plavsic
Major War Criminals/Suspects
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Governments on the WWW: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.