The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Targum Shlishi Foundation officially launched their “Operation: Last Chance” project today in Croatia at a special press conference held at the offices of the Croatian Civic Committee for Human Rights which is serving as the Center`s local partner in implementing the project.
At the press conference the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff revealed that he had already met this morning with Croatian Attorney-General Mladen Bajic and submitted a fully-documented file against Milivoj Ašner, the former Ustaša police chief of the city of Slavonska Požega who had played an active role in the persecution and murder of numerous civilians from that town, and was the first suspect named in Croatia in the framework of “Operation: Last Chance.” (His name was submitted to Dr. Zuroff several weeks ago in the wake of the news that the Center was planning to launch O:LC in Croatia.) Ašner, who still plays an active role in Croatian politics as the founder of the Original Peasants Party, returned to Croatia from Austria after the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.
Zuroff and Dr. Zoran Pusic, president of the Civic Committee, met this morning with Croatian president Stipe Mesic who expressed his fullest support for the project.
Croatia is the seventh country in which the Wiesenthal Center and the Targum Shlishi Foundation, founded and headed by Aryeh Rubin of Miami, Florida, have launched “Operation: Last Chance.” To date, the names of 296 suspects have been submitted, of which 72 have already been turned over to local prosecutors. Fifteen murder investigations have been initiated against approximately 40 suspects. The project will be launched in Hungary (July 13), Argentina (August), Germany (September 21) and the Ukraine (fall 2004).
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