Asner's home in Austria
Photo: AP

Austria reassessing trial fitness of Nazi suspect

Austria to reexamine court ruling that declared 95-year-old Milivoj Asner too ill to stand trial for deporting Jews in WWII after cameras catch him looking somewhat while celebrating with European championship fans

Austria is re-evaluating whether an elderly Croat who has admitted deporting Jews and Serbs under Croatia's World War Two pro-Nazi regime is indeed unfit for trial, the justice minister said on Wednesday.


Milivoj Asner, 95, moved to Austria when a Nazi-tracking group found him living in Croatia in 2005. Austria previously rejected a Croatian extradition request on grounds that Asner's physical and mental condition was fragile.


But he was filmed recently mingling with European championship soccer fans and was interviewed last week by Croatian television. The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center this month renewed a request to Austria for his extradition.


In a statement, Austrian Justice Minister Maria Berger said the earlier finding that Asner was incapable of undergoing trial was being re-examined anew by the state prosecutor's office in the wake of recent developments.


Extradition proceedings could ensue if the reassessment produced "opposite" findings, she said.


The Simon Wiesenthal Center considers Asner the fourth most wanted Nazi at large and says he was a senior security official during Croatia's 1941-45 Ustasha regime.


Last week, Asner said on Croatian television he had ordered deportations of Jews and Serbs during World War Two, but only to their homelands and not to death camps in Croatia.


Zagreb has sought Asner's handover for trial on suspicion of orchestrating persecution of Serb, Jewish and Roma people under Croatia's pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during World War Two, when thousands of non-Croats perished in local death camps.


The Croatian television reporter who conducted the interview said Asner appeared senile and was only temporarily lucid. But Asner said he was ready to appear before the Croatian court.


Jewish groups have long accused Austria , which was annexed by Hitler in 1938 and supplied his Third Reich with many top officials, of a lack of political will to punish Nazi criminals.


Vienna has cited problems unearthing evidence compounded by the passage of time and ill health of suspects.


פרסום ראשון: 06.25.08, 18:09
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