Our accusations that the New Independent State of Croatia is not different from its World War II namesake should not be taken lightly. 
The case of Dinko Sakic illustrates it quite well. 

Dinko Sakic's Portfolio 

Dinko Sakic's Portfolio
From the Press
Srpska Mreza

Copyright New York Times 1998

April 10, 1998

Argentina Says Israel Can Have Croat Who Headed Camp
By: Calvin Sims

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- President Carlos Saul Menem said Thursday that, if asked, Argentina would extradite to Israel an elderly Croatian man who headed a camp where tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies were killed in World War II.

Dinko Sakic, who is accused of heading a Nazi-era death camp, being interviewed on Argentine television.Credit: Reuters

In an interview on government-run radio, Menem said he had instructed authorities to find and detain the Croat, Dinko Sakic, 76, who lived undetected in Argentina for 51 years until he admitted in a television interview on Monday that he ran the Jasenovac camp.

The killings at the camp, which was known as the Auschwitz of the Balkans, took place when Croatia, formerly part of Yugoslavia, was ruled by the fascist Ustashe regime, a puppet of Nazi Germany.

Thousands of Jewish Croats were transferred from Jasenovac to Nazi death camps.

Referring to Israel, Menem said, "He may be sought by that country because many of his victims were Jews."

Sakic in Nazi uniform
Dinko Sakic in Nazi uniform, in an undated photo, accompanied by his wife, Esperanza Luburic. Credit: Reuters

Menem, who has sought to distance himself from past Argentine governments that sheltered scores of Nazis who fled Europe after World War II, said Croatia could also request Sakic's extradition.

Justice Minister Raul Granillo Ocampo said of Sakic, "If some country asks for his extradition, I don't think it will be denied."

But Argentine Interpol officials said Thursday that no foreign government had yet requested Sakic's detention or extradition.

An Argentine federal court is still considering a request by Menem's government that Sakic be arrested on suspicion of ordering thousands of murders. But defense lawyers expressed doubt that the Argentine court would issue an arrest warrant for Sakic unless asked by Croatia, Germany or another country that had jurisdiction to prosecute him.

Sakic's whereabouts has been unknown since Tuesday, when he left his home in the coastal resort town of Santa Teresita, 200 miles southeast of Buenos Aires.

Sakic's wife, Esperanza Luburic, told local reporters that her husband had gone to Buenos Aires to seek refuge in the Croatian Embassy.

But a spokesman for that embassy denied that Sakic was there.

Why Sakic agreed to be interviewed on national television after living quietly in Argentina for half a century is unclear.

In the interview, he acknowledged running the Jasenovac camp from December 1942 to October 1944, but he denied that any killings occurred under his watch.

"When I was there no guard or administrator was allowed to so much as touch a prisoner," Sakic said. "I'm not speaking about what it was like before or afterward, but when I was there no one could touch anyone."

Sakic's wife, who changed her name from Nada to Esperanza when the couple immigrated to Argentina in 1947, said that allegations that her husband had committed acts of genocide were "atrocious."

"It's such a huge lie," she said. "I am distraught. After 50 years, they come up with an atrocious thing like this."

But George Specter, international president of B'nai B'rith, said in a telephone interview from Washington that there was irrefutable proof that Sakic was "comandante of a killing camp."

"He is the most notorious living Nazi war criminal not in custody," Specter said. "Some people will say that happened 50 years ago and we should show compassion for this old man," he continued. "But there is no statute of limitations for genocide, and this monster should be captured and prosecuted according to the law."

Government officials in the United States and Argentina said that B'nai B'rith played a key role in unmasking Sakic, whose name appears on a United

States list of people who are not permitted to enter the country.

B'nai B'rith first learned that Sakic was living in Argentina in 1995 when he acknowledged running the Jasenovac camp in an interview with a Croatian magazine. After a lengthy investigation, Specter said, B'nai B'rith located

Jasenovac survivors in Europe and Argentina who witnessed Sakic taking part in acts of genocide at the camp.

Specter said that several informants, whom he declined to identify, helped the organization track down Sakic in Argentina.

Eli Rosenbaum, director of the United States Justice Department's office of special investigations, which covers acts of genocide, praised the Argentine government's efforts to bring Sakic to justice.

"If an arrest warrant is issued for Sakic, in the absence of an extradition request, then that is a landmark in the treatment of alleged Nazi criminals in Latin America," Rosenbaum said. "Historically it is difficult to get these governments to cooperate and this appears to be a major advance."

Granillo Ocampo, the Argentine justice minister, said that his country would treat Sakic as it did Erich Preibke, the former Nazi SS captain who was extradited in 1995 to Italy, where he was convicted of taking part in the killings of 335 Italian civilians, many of them Jews.

Copyright Srpska Mreza 1998