|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
U.S. 'ready to talk' with N. Korea
Death toll nears 1,000 in South Asia's cold spell
IAEA: Year for Iraq inspections
U.S. doubles forces in Persian Gulf
Mugabe resignation offer proposed
OPEC to raise daily oil output
N. Y. plans to heal skyline
Stocks rise on Case departure
Lieberman's presidential announcement today
New arrests may be linked to UK ricin scare
Jordan says farewell for the third time
Shaq could miss playoff game for child's birth
Ex-USOC official says athletes bent drug rules
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.
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
UN War Crimes Tribunal: charges against Plavsic
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.