Mladen Naletilic, a Bosnian Croat commander convicted of war crimes against Bosniaks, was released early by the Hague Tribunal but could still face murder charges in Zagreb.
Naletilic was released from the Italian prison where he had been serving his sentence and flew from Rome to the Croatian coastal town of Split on Monday evening.
The Hague Tribunal gave him early release after he served two-thirds of his 20-year prison term for participating in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in 1993.
Sixty-seven-year-old Naletilic, who served 13 years and four months in jail, was greeted by family and friends at Split airport but made no comments to the media.
Together with his military subordinate Vinko Martinovic, Naletilic was convicted in 2003 for wartime crimes including persecution on political, racial and religious grounds, torture, wanton destruction and plunder.
Naletilic, the commander of the ‘Convicts’ Battalion’ of the Croatian Defense Council, HVO, was found to have ordered the destruction of Bosniak houses in the village of Doljani in April 1993 and forcibly removed around 400 Bosniak civilians from the villages of Sovici and Doljani in May 1993.
There are still two outstanding cases against Naletilic in Croatia, which were put on hold during his Hague trial and jail term.
He has been indicted in Zagreb for the murder of HVO soldier Robert Nosic in 1993 and is subject to an investigation over the abduction and torture of another HVO serviceman, Damir Brekalo, in 1995.
Croatian prosecutors have not yet filed a warrant for his arrest.
According to Croatian media, Naletilic plans to live in Zagreb, where his sons are based, and has no intention of returning to Siroki Brijeg in Bosnia, where he was born.
Naletilic’s wartime subordinate Martinovic, who was convicted alongside him at The Hague but released in January last year, is currently standing trial in Zagreb for killing a woman in the Bosnian town of Mostar in 1996.