Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today urged Austria to immediately extradite wanted Croatian Nazi war criminal Milivoj Ašner, who has been living in Klagenfurt since shortly after his exposure by the Wiesenthal Center as part of its “Operation: Last Chance” project on June 30, 2004. Ašner, who served as the Ustasha police chief of Požega during World War II and orchestrated the destruction of the local Serb, Jewish and Gypsy communities, is wanted for war crimes in his native Croatia but his extradition has hereto been blocked by the Austrian authorities on medical grounds. Today the British daily The Sun published photos, and made available video clips to the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, which clearly prove that Ašner is in good health, lucid, and able to get about on his own, as he mingled with throngs of football fans in Klagenfurt for the Euro 2008 matches.
In a letter sent today by Zuroff to Austrian Justice Minister Dr. Maria Berger, the Center called upon the Austrian judicial authorities to expedite the case and thereby facilitate Ašner’s prosecution at long last.
According to Zuroff:
“The photos, and video clips also made available to this office, make it abundantly clear that Ašner is in good health, lucid and able to get around on his own, in contradiction to the finding of an Austrian court which ruled that he cannot be extradited to stand trial in Croatia due to ill health.
Under these circumstances, there is absolutely no justification for the continued refusal to extradite this wanted Nazi war criminal to the country where he committed his nefarious crimes, so that he can finally be held accountable for the hundreds of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies whom he deported to Ustasha concentration camps, where the majority were brutally murdered.
Since your appointment as justice minister, there has been a slight improvement in Austria’s handling of Nazi war crimes cases, but much remains to be done if your country is to finally disprove its reputation as a paradise for Holocaust perpetrators. The immediate extradition of former Ustasha police chief Ašner would be a very welcome and major step in that direction.”
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