Thousands welcome released Bosnian war criminal

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Some 3,000 supporters of a convicted Bosnian Muslim war criminal welcomed him on Friday as he left a Croatian prison where he had served most of his 15-year jail term. Fikret Abdic, 72, left the prison in the northern Adriatic port of Pula on being granted early release after serving more than two-thirds of his sentence. During Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, Abdic was a militia leader and set up a self-proclaimed state known as the “Autonomous Region of West Bosnia.” He was sentenced for imprisoning some 5,000 people in detention camps, at least three of whom died of maltreatment.
Abdic fled to Croatia in 1995 following his military defeat and obtained dual citizenship. His supporters, who came mostly from the northwestern Bosnian town of Velika Kladusa and who affectionately call him ‘Babo’ (Papa), gathered outside the prison in the early morning hours. “We are Babo’s, Babo is ours!” chanted his supporters who arrived aboard some 30 buses and hundreds of cars.