Romani Holocaust update: Croatia and Germany

03 April 1999

In Zagreb, Croatia, the trial for war crimes of Dinko Šakić, the former commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp, reopened on March 15. The trial first opened on March 4, but a court official adjourned the trial after Šakić complained of health problems. An ERRC monitor at the March 4 hearing noted that the court heard conflicting medical testimony before deciding to adjourn. Jewish and Serbian groups protested the adjournment, noting that health complaints were a common method of evading justice in such trials. Tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Muslims and Roma died in the Jasenovac camp during World War II.

In Germany, the Central Committee for Sinti and Roma, acting on behalf of an estimated 500 German Roma who survived forced labour under the Nazis, threatened German companies with legal action unless the government proposed a compensation accord similar to the one planned for Jewish survivors, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported on February 23. This step followed the decision of twelve German companies to set up a fund to compensate former slave labourers and people whose property or businesses were expropriated by the Nazis, as reported by Reuters on February 10. According to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, there are around 800,000 former slave labourers living in eastern Europe.

RomNews Network announced on January 15 that the Roma National Congress (RNC) had filed a suit against the Swiss Fund for Needy Victims of the Holocaust-Shoah, accusing the Fund of mismanagement, and alleging that funds equivalent to 1.2 million US dollars had been taken from payments intended for Polish Romani Holocaust victims. According to a CNN report on February 9, 1999, the Roma National Congress claimed that "this special fund for Holocaust survivors is an easy target for fraud". The organisation demanded that future payments be made directly to the victims rather than to the various organisations that represent them. A spokesperson for the Swiss fund subse-quently announced that the Fund plans to continue working through intermediary organisations, because "no irregularities have been found in the Fund's payment".

(CNN, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Reuters, RomNews Network, Süddeutsche Zeitung)


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