Judge Rules That Artukovic is Mentally Competent to Stand Trial

A federal magistrate ruled yesterday that the Yugoslavian Nazi war criminal, Andrija Artukovic, is mentally competent to stand trial. Judge Volney Brown Jr. heard testimony from the departmental head of internal medicine at Long Beach (Calif.) Naval Hospital, where Artukovic is being cared for while under custody.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center reported that Dr. David Hill said that Artukovic was physically was supported by Dr. John Stalberg, a court-appointed psychiatrist who was called upon to determine Artukovic’s mental competence.

Stalberg told Brown that the 85-year-old former Interior and Justice Minister in the Nazi puppet state of Croatia was suffering from depression that could be alleviated by anti-depressant medication. Brown decided that since Artukovic’s state of health had both good and bad days, he would set aside seven days between February 11-27 to continue with the extradition proceedings.

The magistrate also ordered Hill to report to Artukovic’s attorney, Gary Fleischman, on the Nazi war criminal’s mental state on these specific days. Senior officials of the Wiesenthal Center, who had been attending the proceedings against Artukovic the past few months, reported that the proceedings were conducted “with utmost fairness.”

HOPES JUSTICE WILL BE DONE

Dr. Gerald Margolis, director of the Center, said “It is our hope that the extradition request will proceed smoothly and that this notorious Nazi war criminal, who has managed to evade justice for over 30 years and who has lived in the lap of luxury, will finally be brought to the bar of justice. His 750,000 victims — mercilessly murdered — were never given a hearing on their physical or mental well-being.”

Artukovic was arrested last November by federal authorities acting on a new request for extradition by the government of Yugoslavia. An alien resident of California for over 30 years, he was responsible for the murders of 700,000 Serbs, 40,000 Gypsies, and 25,000 Jews in Croatia where he was also in charge of the notorious Jacenovac concentration camp. Until his arrest, Artukovic had successfully evaded all legal moves against him since 1951.

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