Dario Kordic, former leader of the self-proclaimed wartime statelet called the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, was released after serving 17 years of his war crimes sentence.
Kordic was welcomed by some 200 people including friends and family when he arrived at Zagreb airport on Friday after serving two-thirds of his 25-year sentence, local media reported.
‘I want to return and to live with my people. The hardest part was that during the first six years of my imprisonment, my family, my wife and three of my, then minor, children were left without anything or any help,’ Kordic, now aged 54, said just before he got out of jail.
He was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of serious violations of the Geneva Conventions and violating the laws or customs of war.
According to the judgment, Kordic was ‘influential and instrumental in a political-military campaign to persecute, ethnically cleanse, or substantially reduce and subjugate the Bosnian Muslim population’.
He surrendered in 1997 and served his sentence in an Austrian jail.
Judgements at the Hague Tribunal have said that Herceg-Bosna was founded with the intention of splitting the teritory from Bosnia and Herzegovina and uniting it with a ‘Greater Croatia’.