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Bosnian war criminal walks

March 9, 2012

A former Bosnian warlord has been released from prison in the Croatian city of Pula after serving most of his term. Fikret Abdic led his own autonomous region during Bosnia's civil war.

Abdic and his wife are welcomed by citizens from Velika Kladusa in front of the prison in Pula
Image: Reuters

A convicted war criminal who set up his own self-proclaimed state during Bosnia's 1992-1995 civil war was released from prison in Croatia on Friday.

Fikret Abdic, 72, was a Muslim warlord who fought against his coreligionists and set up the "Autonomous Region of West Bosnia" after splitting with the central government in Sarajevo. In 2003, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison - later commuted to 15 years - for imprisoning some 5,000 people in detention camps. Abdic fled Bosnia for Croatia in 1995 following his military defeat, where he obtained dual citizenship.

The Croatian Justice Ministry decided last year he could be released early, without serving his entire sentence.

The former warlord was greeted by 3,000 cheering supporters upon his release, the bulk of whom came from the northwestern Bosnian town of Velika Kladusa. During the communist era, Abdic ran the city's food produce company, which declared bankruptcy in 1987 in one of the former Yugoslavia's biggest financial scandals. He was later jailed for alleged fraud.

Abdic said he plans to eventually return to Velika Kladusa to help revive the economy there.

slk/ncy (AP, AFP)