Penalties for Using Ustasha Salute Might be Increased, Prime Minister Says

By 22 April 2022
Penalties for Using Ustasha Salute Might be Increased, Prime Minister Says
Image: Dubravka Petrić/PIXSELL

ZAGREB, 22 April (2022) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday the possibility of increasing penalties for the use of the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" was being considered in talks with national minorities and antifascists, but not legislative amendments that would ban its use.

"I have underlined once again that the existing regulations and Constitutional Court rulings are very clear about the salute. I think only the practice should be standardised. We can see if the penalties might be increased, so that we can act preventively in that way too, but also punish those breaking the law," Plenković told the press after a commemoration for the 77th anniversary of the inmate breakout from the WWII Ustasha concentration camp Jasenovac.

He did not specify whether amendments to the criminal code or the misdemanour law were being considered.

A number of options are being discussed, he said, adding that the courts already have the legal basis but they should standardise their practice, which can also be done by the Supreme Court.

Plenković went on to say that the government was willing to finance the refurbishment of the Jasenovac Memorial Site, and that the education ministry would try to ensure, in agreement with school principals, that as many pupils as possible visited it.

He also commented on a recent statement by War Veterans Ministry envoy Matko Raos at a HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) commemoration that "without 10 April 1941, there would have been no present-day Croatia."

Plenković said Raos made a "serious mistake" and that he apologised to the war veterans minister and him.

"Sometimes inexperienced people say something they shouldn't. We all distanced ourselves from it, condemning it. I'm not sure whether we should send anyone to such events any more," he said, adding that he meant events which resembled a provocation more than a commemoration.

Plenković said those present at today's commemoration honoured all those killed at Jasenovac at the time of the fascist NDH (1941-45 Independent State of Croatia).

"We are sorry for everyone who was killed here, Jews, Serbs, Roma, Croats and antifascists, all who were against that regime."

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