Anton Kikaš arrested trying to bring a Boeing full of Weapons to a disarmed Croatia in 1991

On 31 August 1991, the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) arrested Anton Kikaš, a Canadian businessman of Croatian descent at Zagreb’s Pleso Airport. He was arrested in a Ugandan Airlines Boeing 707 jet carrying 18 tons of light infantry and anti-armour weapons intended for the Ministry of the Interior and the National Guard Corps of the Republic of Croatia.

Anton Kikaš was a prominent Canadian developer and entrepreneur who was active in the Croatian expatriate community. He was born in the Herzegovinian village of Bijakovići in 1941, spent his childhood and youth in Kakanj and Sarajevo and graduated from the Faculty of Geodetics in Zagreb. Kikaš went abroad in the late 1960s, specifically to Canada where he eventually built his business empire. He was active in Croatian emigrant circles and supported many initiatives such as assisting in the establishment of the Chair for Croatian Language and Culture at the University of Waterloo in 1987. After Croatia declared its independence and his homeland was threatened by war, Kikaš and other Croatian emigrants contributed money to purchase weapons for its defense.

He purchased the weapons in South Africa and the shipment was to be transported by Uganda Airlines. The plan was to fly towards Trieste and then redirect and land in Ljubljana, Slovenia. However, as Kikaš explained the pilot changed the flight path and mistakenly entered Yugoslav airspace at which point two Yugoslav Air Force MIG fighter jets intercepted the transport plane and forced it to land at the airport in Zagreb. Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) soldiers seized the weapons and arrested Kikaš in dramatic fashion. After he was beaten,

Kikaš was transferred to Belgrade, Serbia where he spent three months in a military prison.Kikaš endured poor conditions at the prison, survived torture and was even threatened with execution. However, increased media interest led to his release and Kikaš was exchanged for captured YPA General Milan Aksentijević in late November of 1991.

The fate of the seized aircraft was also interesting. The YPA used it to transport equipment and personnel during its withdrawal from both Slovenia and Croatia. Moreover, the Boeing 707 transported reservists to battlefields in Croatia and later Bosnia-Herzegovina and returned to Belgrade with families of YPA officers and civilians who fled from the Bihać area as well as Sarajevo. As it was converted to carry military equipment, the plane could hold 400 passengers and thus transported tens of thousands of civilians fleeing the war, although most probably did not know why members of the YPA named the plane “Kikaš”.

Sources
Sedlar, Jakov. (2016.) Nisam se bojao umrijeti – domoljubna misija Antona Kikaša 1991., feature documentary film, Cromark.
TV Kalendar. Croatian radio-Television. author Vladimir Brnardić, editor Vladimir Brnardić, August 31, 2013
TV Kalendar. Croatian radio-Television. author Tomislav Šulj, editor Vladimir Brnardić, November 25, 2016
TV Kalendar. Croatian radio-Television. author Tomislav Šulj, editor Vladimir Brnardić, April 20, 2017

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