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Croatia ex-minister acquitted over WWII crimes

22 May 2014, 18:05

Zagreb - A Croatian court acquitted on Thursday a former interior minister and senior communist partisan of ordering the killing of 21 people in the final days of World War II.

Josip Boljkovac, sged 93, was accused of ordering in May 1945 the detention and execution of the 21 civilians for being suspected collaborators with Croatia's Nazi-allied Ustasha regime.

The 21 were taken into woods, shot and buried in a mass grave near the central town of Karlovac, some 50kms south west of Zagreb. Only seven of the bodies have since been identified.

However presiding judge Tomislav Jurisa ruled that there were "no documents or witnesses" supporting the charges.

Boljkovac, Croatia's first interior minister after independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, was not present in court because of his old age and fragile health.

He had attended the opening of his trial in February in a wheelchair, pleading not guilty.

Boljkovac was the first communist official to be tried in Croatia over crimes committed during World War II.



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