The once-powerful head of the Croatian police during World War II, Milivoj Asner, has died a free man in Austria at the age of 98.
Asner appeared as the fourth person on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's 'Most Wanted' list, and appeared on Interpol's 'Most Wanted' list as well.
Nevertheless, he managed to escape extradition from Austria to Croatia, where in 2005 he was indicted for crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Those included his active participation in the deportation of hundreds of Jews, Serbs and Roma (gypsies) to the Nazi death camps.
The Austrian government allowed him to stay in the country, relying upon medical statements that claimed he suffered from dementia and therefore was unfit to stand trial.
Such reports were slammed by international media who discovered him relaxing with his wife and several soccer fans on a terrace during the European Football Championship. A June 2008 photo documenting the incident was published in the British newspaper The Sun, sparking a worldwide scandal.
Asner lived in an assisted living residence in Klagenfurt, Carinthia since 2006, one year after he fled to Austria due to having been successfully tracked down by the Wiesenthal Center.
“On this occasion, it is important to reiterate the fundamental role of the political will to bring the perpetrators of the Holocaust to justice,” the Wiesenthal Center said in a statement. It called on the world to “urgently make a final effort to bring these murderers to justice before it's too late.”
Although not reported until Monday, when it was published in a local newspaper, Asner's death was confirmed by Viktor Omelko, director of the firm that administers the residence in which he lived.