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Simon Wiesenthal Centre slams Croatian fascist tribute

Zagreb — Jerusalem’s Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which hunts Nazi war criminals, hit out Tuesday at plans by Croatian nationalists to erect a statue in Zagreb to honour the country’s former fascist leader Ante Pavelic.

The Jewish human rights group described plans by the ultra-nationalist Croatian Cultural Movement to honour Pavelic as "historical revisionism of the worst sort imaginable and a whitewash of the horrific crimes committed."

"It is simply inconceivable that a country on the verge of entry to the European Union would allow such a monument to be erected in its capital city or anywhere else on its territory," said Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Efraim Zuroff.

However, under city law all applications to erect monuments or statues must be approved by the local council.

Pavelic headed an independent Croat state, recognised by German and Italian dictators Hitler and Mussolini, from 1941 to 1945.

Hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, gypsies (Roma) and anti-Fascist Croats were killed in concentration camps while he was in power.

He died in Madrid on December 28, 1959 from the effects of an attack on him two years earlier in Buenos Aires where he had taken refuge in 1945.

Croatian Cultural Movement president Tomislav Dragun said on Sunday that the statue would go up in Zagreb on December 26 — just two days before the 50th anniversary of Pavelic’s death.