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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK
Bosnia candidate jailed for war crimes
Fikret Abdic flanked by bodyguards
Fikret Abdic was sentenced by a Croatian court
A Muslim rebel leader who intends to run for the Bosnian presidency has been jailed for war crimes committed during the Bosnian war.

Fikret Abdic was sentenced to 20 years in jail by a court in the Croatian town of Karlovac.

The court ruled that Abdic was responsible for the deaths of 121 civilians and three prisoners of war, as well as injuries to more than 400 civilians during the 1990s.

He was also convicted of setting up the autonomous region of West Bosnia, in defiance of the central government in Sarajevo.

Fikret Abdic fled an advance by government troops and resettled in Croatia in 1995, where he set up a business.

The former rebel warlord, who holds joint Bosnian and Croatian nationality, was indicted in Bosnia but tried in Croatia.

Legal deal

Sarajevo had repeatedly asked for him to be extradited for trial before a Bosnian court, but Zagreb refused on account of his Croatian citizenship.

The case was eventually handed over to a Croatian court, under an agreement on legal co-operation between the two countries.

Just last week, Bosnia's election watchdog allowed Abdic to run for the Muslim post in the country's three-man inter-ethnic presidency, even from behind bars.

Election Commission President Lidija Korac said then that the commission may make a new ruling once Abdic's trial was completed.

Presidential elections are due in October and analysts see little chance of Abdic gaining strong support outside his home region.

He is reviled by many Muslims and his party won less than 3% of the votes at the last election.

See also:

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