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4:30pm ET, 4/16


Bosnia's Plavsic to stay in male jail

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic, who is in custody on war crimes charges, will have to stay in an all-male detention centre until next week.

Plavsic, 70, has asked to be moved from the unit she was transferred to after pleading not guilty to nine counts of genocide at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague on Thursday.

She is the only woman among the 35 inmates at the Scheveningen jail and her lawyer argues that it amounts to a male prison.

War Crimes Tribunal President Claude Jorda held a hastily arranged meeting on Thursday evening with Plavsic, her lawyer Krstan Simic and Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte after Simic filed an urgent motion for her to be moved.

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.

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But the hearing was adjourned until next Wednesday morning. It will again be held behind closed doors.

Simic also plans to apply for Plavsic's provisional release to allow her to return to Bosnia until the start of her trial.

He added that Plavsic had found conditions at the jail "a little depressing."

"Nowhere in Europe is a woman detained in a male prison," he said.

Simic said the tribunal could cordon off a special area, but he would still be unhappy as his client would effectively be held in solitary confinement.

Plavsic voluntarily surrendered to the court on Wednesday, becoming the second key figure from the former Bosnian Serb leadership to come to The Hague.

The biology professor pleaded not guilty to nine counts of war crimes in connection with the purge of Muslim and Croat civilians at the start of the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Plavsic's decision to surrender was followed by a call in Yugoslavia for its citizens suspected of war crimes to turn themselves in to the tribunal.

Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac praised Plavsic's decision to fly to The Hague and said Yugoslavs indicted by the court should follow her example.

"We have the presumed innocent rule in law and everyone is innocent until proven guilty," he said. "No one should avoid criminal proceeding, it does not mean humiliation or disrespect of someone's dignity."

Such a statement by a Yugoslav minister would have been unthinkable during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic, himself a war crimes suspect, who refused to have any dealings with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Reuters contributed to this report.

Hague suspects urged to surrender
January 12, 2001
Bosnia's Plavsic denies war crimes
January 11, 2001
Ex-Bosnian Serb President flies to The Hague
January 9, 2001
Milosevic trial may visit Serbia
January 5, 2001
U.N. says Milosevic must face tribunal
December 20, 2000
Hard-liner is new Bosnian Serb president
November 24, 2000

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

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