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Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 23:44 GMT
Ex-Bosnian Serb leader in the Hague
Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic
Mrs Plavsic has not been publicly indicted
The former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic has gone for talks with the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Mrs Plavsic was a key figure in the Bosnian-Serb leadership during the 1992-95 war, but has not been publicly indicted on any war crimes charges.

She went there to defend the dignity of herself and the Serbian people

Svetozar Mihajlovic
Serb National Alliance party
The circumstances of her trip are not clear, but reports from the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, say Mrs Plavsic went to The Hague of her own accord.

The deputy chairman of her party, Svetozar Mihajlovic, said he believed Mrs Plavsic is a war crimes suspect, but did not have any details of any possible indictments.

"I cannot comment on this because we have no details about it, we will have more details tomorrow," he said.

Difficult decision

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised the move, and told a Washington news conference that she understood Mrs Plavsic intended to co-operate with the tribunal.

Plavsic was one of the key people that took part in the aggression

Amor Masovic
Muslim Commission for Missing Persons
"I'm sure that it was an incredibly difficult decision and she was courageous to take it," said Mrs Albright.

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

Bosnian Serb Republic Justice Minister Cedo Vrzina said he believed Mrs Plavsic had "done absolutely nothing that could be described as a war crime".

"Mrs Plavsic will be the first case of someone from the Serb Republic going to The Hague and returning with the charges against them dropped," he told the Beta News Agency.

The War Crimes Tribunal has not commented on the reports.

Strong nationalist

Mrs Plavsic was a close ally of the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadizic during the war, from 1992 until 1995.

She was elected president of the Bosnian Serbs in 1996, but defeated at polls two years later.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
Mrs Plavsic was a key ally of war-leader Radovan Karadzic
In 1997, she attracted Western support after publicly criticising Bosnian Serb hardliners, alleging widespread corruption.

However, she remained a strong nationalist, and spoke out against the arrests of alleged war criminals by the Nato-led Stabilisation Force in Bosnia.

Many commentators consider Mrs Plavsic lucky to have escaped similar indictments to those levelled at Mr Karadzic and former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, both of whom remain at large.

In 1992, a widely-published photograph showed her stepping over the body of a dead Muslim civilian to kiss the late Serb warlord Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan.

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See also:

10 Jan 01 | Europe
Milosevic trial: Home or away?
21 Nov 00 | Europe
Ghosts of Bosnia's war live on
15 Nov 00 | Europe
Bosnia: The legacy of war
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