Suspected Nazi war criminal tracked down in Austria
Austrian and Croatian police have located Milivoj Aschner, 91, a suspected Nazi criminal wanted for sending hundreds of Jews, Gypsies and Serbs to concentration camps. Aschner was tracked down to the Austrian city of Klagenfurt, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, Efraim Zuroff, announced yesterday.
Zuroff is scheduled to meet today in Zagreb with Croatia's attorney general, Mladen Bajic, and ask him to accelerate arrest proceedings against Aschner so he can stand trial for crimes committed in Croatia.
Aschner was first exposed as a Nazi criminal last June, after he had lived in Croatia for years, becoming a wealthy and prominent figure and even establishing a local peasants' party two years ago.
His exposure was made possible by the Wiesenthal Center's operation, dubbed "Last Chance," which offers financial rewards for exposing living Nazi criminals who have not been brought to justice. A 27-year-old Jewish man, who was engaged in researching his family history, interviewed a former partisan who identified Aschner as the local police chief of the Croatian city Pozega during World War II.
The partisan fingered Aschner as the man who actively persecuted and deported hundreds of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies to Nazi concentration camps, including to Jasenovac, known as the Auschwitz of the Balkans. Archives turned up substantiating documents with Aschner's alleged signature.
Zuroff told Haaretz yesterday that Aschner was in good health. "If the man had strength enough to flee to Austria, he has enough strength left to stand trial in Croatia," he added.
Zuroff described Aschner as one of 10 Croatians suspected of Nazi crimes, and one of the 320 Nazi criminals reported to the Center over the past two years.
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