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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Croatia erases 'fascist' tributes
Authorities in Croatia have taken down two monuments which commemorate officials from the country's Nazi era.

A plaque dedicated to writer Mile Budak and a statue honouring Jure Francetic were removed in accordance with laws banning any homage to fascism.

Budak, a minister in the 1941 to 1945 Ustasha government, introduced race laws which led to the execution of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies.

The monuments were erected recently and some locals objected to their removal.

Following the Nazi invasion in 1941, a "Greater Croatia" was formed, also comprising most of Bosnia and western Serbia.

The fascist puppet government under Ante Pavelic acted brutally against Serbs and Jews as it sought to create a Catholic, all-Croat republic.

Francetic was a top military officer, and founder of the infamous Black Legion unit, which served in Bosnia.

'Negative notions'

The plaque to Budak in Sveti Rok, Lovinac, was put up last week by a group which said it was funded by people who fled the country to Australia and Canada in 1945.

It drew criticism from the government as well as rights groups and the Roman Catholic Church.

The government, which hopes to start European Union membership talks next year, decided to order the removal of the monuments during an emergency session on Thursday.

The cabinet also said it wanted amendments to the penal code to ban the promotion of all totalitarian ideologies, including communism and fascism.

Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said the government would "not allow Croatia to be imprisoned by the past - particularly by negative notions - but will direct all its capacities toward the future".

"The monuments are contrary to fundamental elements of the Croatian constitution and damage the reputation and interests of Croatia," he added.

Reuters news agency said several villagers in Sveti Rok cried as workers took away the black marble plaque to Budak.

The statue to Francetic, erected a few years ago in Slunj, was also torn down under heavy police security on Friday.

Death camp chief gets 20 years
04 Oct 99  |  Europe
Country profile: Croatia
20 Jul 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Croatia
29 Jun 04  |  Country profiles

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