Call to retry alleged collaborator

September 3, 2004

A petition urging a posthumous retrial for a Croatian minister executed for alleged collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War has been signed by 120 academics and scholars.

Mile Budak served as Minister of Education and Religion in the wartime Independent Croatian Republic, which was in effect a client state of Nazi Germany. He was tried and executed by the Yugoslav army in June 1945, but details of the case against him have never been made public.

The appeal calls for the reopening of this and other political trials, with equal weight given to documents for the prosecution and the defence. "Let legal impartiality be used to assess his objective guilt and let a final, legally regulated and law-based ruling be proclaimed," the appeal says.

The petition questions the degree of Budak's responsibility. It says "he was not the initiator of the so-called racial laws" and that while holding a post in the Government he "procrastinated as long as he could their enforcement", and protected Jews and Serbs who held posts at Zagreb University.

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