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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 12:13 UK

Nazi suspect 'ready for justice'

Milivoj Asner (file)
Mr Asner says he is innocent of any war crime

A Croatian man suspected of war crimes for his role during World War II has said he is ready to face justice as his conscience is clear.

Milivoj Asner, now 95, was a senior member of the country's pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during the war.

Campaigners say Mr Asner, who lives in Austria, is the fourth most-wanted living Nazi war crimes suspect.

He told Croatian television that he had ordered the deportation of Jews and Serbs, but not to Croatian death camps.

"I am ready to come to Croatia. My conscience is clear, I could appear before a court tomorrow," Mr Asner said in the interview.

"I am deeply convinced that if the court is just and if judges are honest people, they have to clear me of all charges," he added.

Fragile health

He fled to Klagenfurt, Austria after being tracked down in Croatia in 2005, where he is wanted on suspicion of organising the persecution of Serb, Jewish and Roma people during the war.

"Nothing ever happened to whoever was a loyal citizen of the Croatian state," said the wartime police chief.

"For others, my theory was: You are not a Croat, you hate Croatia, okay, then please go back to you homeland."

The Croatian television reporter who conducted the interview said Mr Asner appeared senile and was only temporarily lucid.

Mr Asner was recently filmed mingling with European championship soccer fans in his home town, prompting the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre to urge Austria to extradite him.

Austria has in the past refused to hand over Mr Asner to the Croatian authorities, saying his mental health is too fragile to allow him to stand trial.

Jewish groups have 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 track down Nazi criminals.


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