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Saturday, April 11, 1998 Published at 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK

World: Europe

Croatia seeks extradition of Nazi in Argentina

Dinko Sakic at the time of his 1944 marriage

The Croatian government is asking Argentina to hand over Dinko Sakic who admitted this week on television that he was a Nazi concentration camp commander in Croatia during the Second World War.

[ image:  ]
The 76-year-old has been living in Argentina for the last 50 years. In the TV interview on Monday, he denied any knowledge of atrocities committed at the Jasenovac concentration camp established by Croatia's Ustasa Nazi puppet government in 1941.

He claimed that Jasenovac was a work camp and attributed to natural causes any deaths that ocurred at the camp, adding that he considered himself "a Croatian patriot."

[ image: Pictures taken at Jasenovac during the war]
Pictures taken at Jasenovac during the war
But it is generally accepted that tens of thousands of people - mainly Serbs, Jews and gypsies - were killed, although the exact number of victims is still the subject of controversy.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Nazi-hunting organisation, puts the figure at half a million, while Croatian scholars insist it was closer to 80,000.

[ image: Dinko Sakic photographed this week]
Dinko Sakic photographed this week
The Argentine government asked justice authorities to detain Sakic on Tuesday, but he disappeared from his home in the Atlantic beach resort of Santa Teresita after giving the interview and his whereabouts are unknown.

According to a BBC correspondent in South America, it is unlikely he could be tried in an Argentine court, but Justice Minister Raul Granillo Ocampo has already said that "if some country asks for his extradition, I don't think it will be denied."

President Carlos Menem has said if caught Sakic may also be deported to Israel because Jews were among those killed at Jasenovac.

Balkans expert Chris Cviic on Croatia confronting its past
The BBC's former Balkans correspondent Paul Woods says that the conduct of Croats at places like Jasenovac during World War 2 was a key cause of the recent civil war in Yugoslavia.

[ image:  ]
It didn't help that when Croatia achieved independence its flag bore the checkerboard emblem of the Ustasa state.

Any trial of Dinko will re-open disputes between Serb and Croat historians over what really happened in Yugoslavia during WW 2.

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Simon Wiesenthal Centre

A Croat historian criticises Serb accounts

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