Copyright © Reuters 1998
April 24, 1998
Croatia wants camp commander arrested, extradited
ZAGREB - Croatia made a formal demand on Friday for the extradition of World War Two concentration camp commander Dinko Sakic from Argentina, state news agency HINA reported.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement it had also requested Argentine authorities to arrest Sakic, 76.
He has lived in Argentina for the past 50 years but his current whereabouts are unknown.
Croatia has charged Sakic with war crimes against the civilian population, for which he could be sentenced to a prison term ranging from five to 20 years, the ministry said.
Zagreb expressed readiness to try Sakic after he gave an interview to Argentine television earlier this month, in which he spoke of his time as commander of Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia from 1942 to 1944.
Croatia was then under the Fascist rule of the Ustashe regime and Jasenovac became known as the Auschwitz of the Balkans.
The number of prisoners who died there -- Jews, Serbs, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats -- remains disputed, varying from 85,000 according to independent Croatian estimates to 700,000 according to Serbian accounts.
The Ministry said Sakic had been the administrative head and deputy commander of Jasenovac and commander of a nearby camp in Stara Gradiska.
The Simon Wiesenthal centre, which hunts Nazi war criminals, demanded Sakic be tried immediately after the interview and Argentine President Carlos Menem asked for him to be arrested.
A Yugoslav investigative commission proclaimed Sakic a war criminal in 1946 but he was never formally charged. In order to form a case against him the Croatian authorities had to collect enough evidence.
Croatia, which gained independence from federal Yugoslavia in 1991, has often been criticised for an ambiguous stance towards its fascist past and analysts say the trial could help it shake off that historic burden.
Yugoslavia, now comprising Serbia and Montenegro, said it would soon demand extradition of Sakic because the largest proportion of victims were Serbs.