Croatia asks Austria to extradite 92-year-old man suspected of WWII war crimes

Croatia has requested extradition from Austria of a 92-year-old World War II war crimes suspect who was tracked down by an amateur Nazi hunter, the justice minister said Thursday.

However, Austria's justice ministry said Thursday its own prosecutors are investigating Milivoj Aschner, because Austrian law does not allow for extraditions of Austrian citizens for trial abroad. Aschner holds both Croatian and Austrian citizenship.

Aschner, a former police chief in eastern Croatia, allegedly enforced racist laws in 1941-1942 under Croatia's World War II Nazi puppet regime, which persecuted tens of thousands of Jews, Gypsies and Serbs.

He is suspected of committing crimes against civilians, mainly Jews and Serbs, the minister, Vesna Skare Ozbolt, told The Associated Press.

Croatia has also issued an international arrest warrant for him on Tuesday, she said.

"We expect Austria to respond to our request," Skare Ozbolt said. "We did absolutely everything in our power. The onus is now on Austria."

But Christoph Poechinger, a spokesman for Austria's Justice Ministry, said Aschner "is an Austrian citizen, and therefore the trial if there is a trial will be in Austria."

Poechinger said Austrian prosecutors have received a lot of "new facts" on Aschner from Croatia. The decision on whether to bring charges against him in Austria is expected in the next two months, he said.

Aschner lived peacefully in Croatia for years before he was discovered two years ago by an amateur researcher, Alen Budaj.

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