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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Former Bosnian Serb leader pleads guilty
Biljana Plavsic
Mrs Plavsic still faces life imprisonment
One of the main defendants at The Hague war crimes tribunal, former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic, has pleaded guilty to one count of crimes against humanity.

She earlier pleaded not guilty to eight charges of genocide, war crimes and violations of the rules of war.


Mrs Plavsic has not agreed to testify in any other case pending before this tribunal

Lawyer Eugene O'Sullivan
Prosecutors have said that all the other charges will now be dropped, fuelling speculation that Mrs Plavsic may have reached a deal with them.

But the defendant's lawyer, Eugene O'Sullivan, said there had been no deal and denied that she had agreed to testify against other defendants.

Mrs Plavsic, who is the first high-level leader to plead guilty at the tribunal, still faces life imprisonment.

She was indicted as part of the Bosnian Serb leadership of 1991-2, along with wartime leaders Radovan Karadzic, currently a fugitive, and Momcilo Krajisnik, who is now in custody.

In the later stages of the Bosnian conflict, Mrs Plavsic fell out with Mr Karadzic and began to co-operate with Western moves to pacify Bosnia.

Mrs Plavsic, 72, was released from jail a year ago, several months after surrendering voluntarily to the tribunal.

'Consolation'

Speaking by video-link to the tribunal, the former Bosnian Serb president pleaded guilty to a charge of planning, instigating and aiding in the persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Croats across Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Plavsic's plea could be used in evidence against Milosevic
In a statement, Mr O'Sullivan said that by accepting responsibility and remorse for the crimes she's committed, Mrs Plavsic is offering consolation to the innocent victims of the war in Bosnia including Muslims, Croats and Serbs.

By pleading guilty to persecution, Mrs Plavsic admitted that the Bosnian Serb army worked together with Yugoslav army units during the Bosnian conflict.

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague says her admission could be used in evidence against the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

A panel of three judges ruled that Mrs Plavsic could remain outside the tribunal's custody until her sentencing.

"We are taking a wholly exceptional course in your case and for reasons of security we shall continue your provisional release," said presiding Judge Richard May.

In a highly unusual move in January 2001, Mrs Plavsic handed herself over to the tribunal.

Since her provisional release in September of that year, she has been living under police surveillance in Belgrade.

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The BBC's Chris Morris reports from The Hague
"A real breakthrough for this tribunal"

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29 Aug 01 | Europe
15 Nov 00 | Europe
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