LOS ANGELES (Nov. 28)
About 100 self-identified Croatians surrounded, taunted and threatened violence to a group of Jews outside a Federal District Court here yesterday after Judge Volney Brown Jr. denied bail to Andrija Artukovic, described as the most notorious Nazi war criminal living in the United States.
Artukovic, arrested November 14 by Federal authorities acting on an extradition request by the Yugoslav government, was Minister of Interior and Justice of the puppet state of Croatia set up by the Nazis in occupied Yugoslavia during World War II. He is held responsible for the murders of at least 25,000 Jews, 40,000 Gypsies and 700,000 Serbs. He has been a resident alien in California for more than 30 years.
Immediately following Judge Brown’s ruling, a crowd of approximately 100 members of the local Croatian community began to menace officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center — Rabbis Marvin Hier, dean, and Abraham Cooper, associate dean — and other Jews who were being interviewed by the media.
Another unidentified Croatian, shouted at another Jew outside the courthouse, “I am a member of the Ustashi and there are more of us than you and you will be dead.” The Ustashi was the Croatian equivalent of the Nazi SS. The Wiesenthal Center has asked federal and local authorities for a full investigation of the incident.
The Croatians were apparently infuriated by Judge Brown’s decision. In denying bail he agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney General David Nimer’s argument that bail is not the rule in extradition cases unless “exceptional circumstances” can be established.
Defense attorney Gary Fleischman failed to establish that Artukovic, 84, is too ill to remain in custody and is not competent to understand the case pending against him. Artukovic has been confined to the prison ward at Orange County-University of California Medical Center but was in the courtroom for the bail hearing.