The controversial Bosnian politician and convicted war criminal, Fikret Abdic, speaking for the first time since he was released from prison, has said that he wants to return to his career in business.Speaking at a press conference in Zagreb on Tuesday, Abdic, known as Babo [Daddy] to his followers, said that he wants to take over Agrokomerc, the agricultural company he established in the Bosnian town of Velika Kladusa before the war.
He said that he had been appointed as the “CEO of seven thousand unemployed shareholders in Agrokomerc“, and claimed the right to manage the company again in the name of those people.Before the war, Abdic was a highly successful executive for Agrokomerc, which employed 13,000 people, making it one of the most successful agricultural firms in the former Yugoslavia.
Because of that success, Abdic enjoyed the unequivocal support of the people of Velika Kladusa, a popularity which endures to the present day.
Abdic refused to comment on his war crimes sentence at the press conference.
In 2001, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the County Court in Karlovac, Croatia, for war crimes committed in the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, the breakaway region in northwest Bosnia.
Abdic was a former member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina before he founded the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia in 1993. The province, whose centre was the town of Velika Kladusa, existed until 1995.
While leading the breakaway statelet, Abdic fought against fellow Bosniaks who were loyal to the Sarajevo government. Forces loyal to Abdic opposed the Bosnian army and cooperated with Serb and Croat forces in Bosnia and Croatia.
There were several prison camps for Bosnian army soldiers in WBAR, holding over 5,000 prisoners, and war crimes were committed there.
The Higher Public Prosecution service in the western Bosnian town of Bihac filed an indictment against Abdic in August 1996. Following a decision by the Supreme Court of Croatia in 2001, the case was taken over by the Croatian judiciary.
Abdic served his prison sentence in Karlovac and Pula prisons. In 2005, the Croatian Supreme Court shortened his sentence to 15 years in prison and he was conditionally released on March 9 this year after serving two thirds of his sentence.
Since then, Abdic has lived in the Croatian coastal town of Opatija.
When Abdic was released from the Croatian prison in Pula last March, he was met by about two thousand people, who had travelled some 500 kilometres from Velika Kladusa to greet him.
The Sarajevo government, on the other hand, continues to see Abdic as a traitor, and has ruled out any communication with him.