FEBRUARY 7 2014 09:13h dalje.com‏
Simon Wiesenthal Center wants Croatia to expedite investigation of Dencinge

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Thursday urged Croatian authorities to step up an investigation of Jakob Dencinger, who is suspected of having been a guard at the Auschwitz death camp.

The organisation, which is dedicated to seeking out Nazi criminals, issued a statement quoting Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre - Israel Office, who in an article for the Croatian Jutarnji List daily said that the case of Jakob Dencinger, who reportedly lives in Osijek, needs to be investigated as soon as possible.

"One thing has to be clear and that is that people who served as guards in the largest mass murder factory in human history, and were among those wanted for that service immediately after the war, do not deserve any sympathy due to age or to frailty," said Zuroff.

"The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of those who made the killing possible and old age does not turn criminals into Righteous Gentiles. And most important, the victims of that terrible camp deserve that those who participated in the crimes committed there are neither ignored nor excused."

Zuroff said that Croatia had proved in the trial of Dinko Sakic that it was capable of prosecuting and punishing Nazi criminals and collaborators and that it had correctly sought the extradition from Austria of Ustasha Pozega police chief Milivoj Asner.

"... but justice can still be achieved in the Dencinger case as well, and the lessons to be derived from such a trial are especially important in the light of resurgent neo-fascism which has once again raised its ugly head in Croatia," said Zuroff.

The Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) on January 30 reported that German authorities had sent it, through a regional justice ministry's central body investigating Nazi crimes, information on the identity of a person from Croatia who the German press claims used to be a guard in Nazi concentration camps.

DORH did not confirm media reports that the person in question was 89-year-old Jakob Dencinger from Osijek, born in 1924 in Cepin, a former member of the Waffen SS, the armed forces of Hitler's Nazi Party, and a guard in the worst Nazi death camps.

The Osijek County Prosecutor's Office is conducting a preliminary investigation, DORH said.

DORH has also requested documentation from the judicial authorities of the United States, where Dencinger lived for some time, as well as from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to examine grounds for suspicion about possible violations of international humanitarian law and the laws and customs of war during World War II.