Biljana Plavšić, the former president of Republika Srpska, was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. After she plead guilty and issued a remorseful statement, the prosecution dropped the genocide charges and she was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and subsequently granted early release. While in prison, she published lengthy memoirs in which she retracted her confession. In this article, I take a look back at Plavšić's ICTY case to put forward three principal arguments. First, the Plavšić case demonstrates significant inconsistencies in ICTY procedures and sentencing, which have important ramifications for other international justice cases. Second, the expectation and hope displayed by many international justice promoters that war crimes trials may lead to truthful confessions, apologies, or acknowledgments of abuses is not borne out by evidence. Finally, the Plavšić case demonstrates that the international justice focus on individualizing accountability for mass atrocity is ill equipped to deal with the collectivist nature of such crimes.
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