Croatia court bans Bosnian warlord Fikret Abdic from politics

ZAGREB Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:09am EDT

Former Bosnian Muslim warlord Fikret Abdic and his wife wave to citizens from Velika Kladusa in front of the prison in Pula March 9, 2012. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Former Bosnian Muslim warlord Fikret Abdic and his wife wave to citizens from Velika Kladusa in front of the prison in Pula March 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

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ZAGREB (Reuters) - A Croatian court has banned former Bosnian Muslim warlord Fikret Abdic from political activity and told him he cannot leave the country without its prior consent, state news agency Hina reported on Thursday.

Abdic was set free in March after serving two-thirds of his 15-year sentence for the murder and detention of fellow Muslims in his self-styled autonomous province in northwest Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. He is on probation until June 2016.

Though a Muslim himself, Abdic split from Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic early in the war, declared his native enclave autonomous, and installed himself as its president, doing business with all sides in the conflict.

The court in Rijeka, on Croatia's northern Adriatic coast, imposed travel restrictions on him and banned him from politics after reviewing video footage of a recent trip he made to his native Velika Kladusa in Bosnia.

The court had previously allowed Abdic to leave Croatia to visit relatives in Bosnia, but the footage, provided by his wartime opponents, showed him engaged in political activity there.

Abdic's daughter Elvira played down the ruling, saying her father had not planned to revive his political career.

He remains popular in Velika Kladusa, where he is remembered as the father of the Agrokomerc food concern, the main source of jobs and wealth in the region before the war.

After his release, he vowed to rebuild the defunct company, now the subject of a court dispute, with the help of his supporters, many of whom now live abroad.

Elvira Abdic said her father's political opponents had tried to smear him ahead of Bosnia's local vote last Sunday in order to undermine a candidate for the mayor of Velika Kladusa that he was supporting.

"He has not engaged in politics but he cannot give up his authority," she told Reuters.

(Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic and Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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