Now that Andrija Artukovic has been transferred to a Missouri prison, media coverage pertaining to Yugoslavia's case against him has subsided. It is tragic this legally blind 85-year-old man is being subjected to prison treatment 1,000 miles away from any family members even though neither Yugoslavia nor the United States have proven he has committed any crimes. This is a classic case of the presumption of guilt before innocence--both by the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations and our U.S. court system.

Yugoslavia has alleged that Artukovic committed his crimes while acting as a high official in the Nazi-puppet government of Croatia during World War II. The real puppet in this case is the U.S. government. Through its Office of Special Investigations it is willfully assisting the Communist government of Yugoslavia to deport-extradite Artukovic for trial. Artukovic is one of the most ardent anti-Communist and pro-Western freedom fighters to come from that country since World War II. His chances for a fair trial in that country are impossible.

It should be noted Yugoslavia attempted the same deportation proceedings in the 1950s. Our court system ruled there was no merit to Yugoslavia's allegations. However, with the passage of time, that Communist-backed government appears to be succeeding in its efforts to return Artukovic to Yugoslavia for a mock trial and sentencing. The assistance our government is giving Yugoslavia in this case cannot be underestimated.

It is tragic Artukovic and his family are being made to suffer through this ordeal. The greater tragedy lies with the American people, for we are the ones who have allowed our government and judicial system to act in the manner it has--our combined conscience must live with this forever.


Long Beach

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