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Croatia: Former Bosnian Muslim Rebel Leader Jailed For War Crimes

Karlovac, Croatia; 31 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A Croatian court today sentenced a former Bosnian Muslim rebel, Fikret Abdic, who intended to run for Bosnia's presidency to 20 years in jail for war crimes committed during the Bosnian war. Abdic was found guilty of war crimes against the civilian population and prisoners of war committed around the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihac. He can appeal the sentence.

During the 1992-95 war, Abdic created and headed an Autonomous Region of West Bosnia while his militia was fighting Bosnia's mainly Muslim army.

Abdic, who holds both Croatian and Bosnian passports, was due to run for a seat in Bosnia's tripartite presidency in October polls. There was no immediate reaction from Bosnia's Electoral Commission on the consequences of the ruling.

Abdic, who fled to Croatia in 1995, was tried in the Croatian town of Karlovac after being detained by Croatian authorities. Bosnia handed the case over to Croatia following an agreement on legal cooperation.