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Artukovic calls former police chief’s testimony a lie

April 23, 1986

ZAGREB, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Andrija Artukovic, extradited from the United States to Yugoslavia to stand trial as a war criminal, said Tuesday that testimony about him killing Serbs and Jews was ″a lie and a falsification.″

Franjo Truhar testified that Artukovic, while serving as interior minister in the Nazi puppet state of Croatia during World War II, told him, ″Slaughter Serbs and Jews, but do it cleverly, not like the ones at Slavonski Brod, where they threw corpses into the Sava river.″

Truhar quoted Artukovic as saying on another occasion, ″You see how I have resolved the Jewish question: I take everything from them and then I kill them, and in a few months the issue is over, not like the Germans, who fuss around for years.″

Truhar, 85, served for six months as the Ustasha fascist movement’s police chief in the Croatian town of Sremska Mitrovica, 40 miles north of the capital of Belgrade, before Artukovic removed him from that post.

Artukovic acknowledged under questioniong that he had met Truhar in Zagreb.

Artukovic, 86, has been on trial since April 14 accused of involvement in four massacres of civilians. Last February he lost a 35-year fight against extradition.

Truhar also testified that Artukovic had ordered the death of Jevrem-Jesa Vidic, a lawyer from Sremska Mitrovica. Truhar could not repeat all the details, but said he stood by testimony he gave in 1951 and 1952.

He said that in 1941 he brought a message from Vidic’s wife to Zagreb, in which the woman offered half of Vidic’s arable land if Artukovic would allow Vidic to migrate to Serbia.

Trujar testified that that Artukovic told him, ″I shall kill him (Vidic) and take all of his land.″ Vidic subsequently was arrested, taken to a concentration camp and killed.

Jelena Rasovic, an 84-year-old resident of Sremska Mitrovica, told the court that prisoners at the Jasenovac concentration camp were tied up by twos or threes before being executed.

Official records state that more than 700,000 people perished at that camp.

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