Court Annuls Verdict against Cardinal Stepinac

By 22 July 2016

The Zagreb County Courts decides to annul the 1946 verdict against the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac.

The Zagreb County Court has decided to annul the verdict against Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, whom the communist government in 1946 sentenced to 16 years in prison and forced labour and five years of loss of civil and political rights, reports Index.hr on July 22, 2016.

The decision was explained by Judge Ivan Turudić. The verdict against Stepinac was annulled due to gross violations of current and former fundamental principles of substantive and procedural criminal law, concluded Judge Ivan Turudić explaining the decision in the review process of the verdict. Turudić said that the verdict had violated the principle of the right to a fair trial, appeal and a reasoned court decision, as well as the principle of the prohibition of forced labour and the rule of law.

He added that it was enough to read some parts of the minutes of the trial, which demonstrated that the court mainly analyzed evidence that “instructed witnesses for the prosecution to charge the defendant and that the actual decision in reality was not made by the court but by communist prosecutor Jakov Blažević”.

“The verdict was not explained, but they just repeated general allegations from the indictment”, said Turudić, adding that the goal was “revenge against Cardinal Stepinac, moral disqualification of him and the Catholic Church”.

“The main evidence against Stepinac was the fact that at the time of the Independent State of Croatia he was the Archbishop of Zagreb. He asked during the trial – what should I had done? Go into the woods or flee to London? He decided to stay with his people with whom he stayed also during the Yugoslav royal dictatorship and during Tito’s communist dictatorship”, said the judge. “After 70 years, the verdict has been revised, which has a profound significance for the history of the Croatian people”, concluded Turudić.

The revision of the judgment was requested by the Archbishop's nephew Boris Stepinac.