Copyright © Novi List, Rijeka, Croatia 1998
April 11-13, 1998
Dinko Sakic's 1946 Indictment Is Missing
Is the main reason the Croatian authorities are hesitating to officially ask the Argentine Government to extradite Dinko Sakic, the notorious commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp and the closest associate of Maks Luburic, one of the major Ustasha war criminals, that documents on Sakic's crimes have disappeared from the Croatian State Archives? As we have learned from a reliable source in the Croatian government, documents on Sakic's crimes, which were collected and compiled immediately following the end of World War II, are no longer to be found in the Ministry of Justice, the court archives, or the state historical archives of the Republic of Croatia!
"They are really in a panic," our source said, describing the Friday [10 April] atmosphere in the halls of the government building and the Presidential Palace. Strongly pressured by Jewish organizations in Israel and worldwide, although official pressure of foreign governments is still absent, Croatia is expected quickly to say whether it wants Sakic or not. The Argentine Government and President Carlos Menem are eager to get rid of Sakic as soon as possible, and imprisonment in Zagreb comes up as a logical solution. However, if they wait too long -- past the Easter holidays -- for the Croatian decision on the extradition request, Argentina will send Sakic to whoever should want him. Germany, and even Yugoslavia, have been mentioned in that context.
Reporters as Sources of Information?
Our source told us that there are some documents on Sakic in the Croatian State Archives after all, but only minor parts of the entire file. Among the missing portions of it are the official minutes of the investigation that was conducted on Sakic by the State Commission for Investigation of Crimes Committed by Occupiers and Their Helpers of the NR [People's Republic] of Croatia [historical] and the indictment that was brought against the commander of Jasenovac in 1946. The indictment rightfully put Dinko Sakic, as the commander of Jasenovac, on the list of more than 3,000 war criminals which was later sent to the competent international institutions and the UN.
Having already heard the explanation about the absence of documents on Sakic in the Croatian archives, Novi List reporters were not very surprised when a high official of the Croatian government asked them if, by any chance, they had the documents on the investigation of Sakic and the indictment. As we have been informed, reporters of some other Croatian media that had written about Sakic were asked the same thing.
Unfortunately, our reporters were not able to meet the unofficial and mildly bizarre request of the Croatian government. They explained that, in their previous coverage of the Sakic case, they had used only secondary sources that offered information on the Sakic investigation.
We tried to find information on the whereabouts of Sakic's indictment in the Croatian State Archives, but our attempt failed due to the shortened working hours of state employees. A similar outcome met our attempt to learn from the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether Efraim Zuroff, head of the Jerusalem branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, had spoken the truth when he said that the Sakic case would be on the agenda of an upcoming meeting of the Israeli Foreign Minister and a Croatian deputation. In an interview for Radio Free Europe, Zuroff had said that Israeli representatives would visit Zagreb on 15 April. Although the visit had been planned as part of the usual bilateral activities, it would be impossible to avoid the issue of Sakic.
Problems With the Archives on Rojnica
In our search for the indictment we contacted the Jewish community in Zagreb, but to no avail. We were told that even the Jewish community always contacted the Croatian State Archives for any necessary documents, just as it had done recently in the Rojnica case, so they referred us to the Archives, but warned us that we might not find everything we expected to find there. For example, as workers of the Jewish community found during a recent search, a document on Rojnica had been removed from the box in which materials were kept.
However, even had the Archives been open, reporters would not have been very likely to find the indictment that a state institution such as the Croatian government had failed to find.
Sakic's indictment, although more than 50 years old, is still valid, because war crimes have no statute of limitations. The indictment is necessary for an official extradition request, because the 1946 indictment must be used as grounds for his extradition and a subsequent trial, although it can be supplemented or modified in the subsequent proceedings. However, according to rather reliable information, in spite of its chaotic situation, the Croatian government is likely to issue a public communique by the end of Friday, as to what it plans to do regarding the case of Dinko Sakic.