ANDRIJA ARTUKOVIĆ

ANDRIJA ARTUKOVIĆ (Klobuk, near Ljubuški, 1899 – Zagreb, 1988), lawyer and politician

Artuković attended the Franciscan High School in Široki Brijeg and was then admitted to the Zagreb Faculty of Law. From 1926 he ran a law firm in Gospić, but in 1932, just before the Velebit Uprising (in the organisation of which he took part), he emigrated to Italy. He worked there under the assumed name of Hadžija and became a member of the Ustasha Headquarters, the Poglavnik’s adjutant and the commander of all the Ustasha units in Italy.

After the assassination of the king in Marseilles, he was extradited to France and then to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He spent 18 months in prison before being acquitted of all charges. He went abroad again. He lived in Austria and Germany, and occasionally in Hungary.

After the collapse of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, he became a member of the provisional Croatian State Leadership (12 April 1941) and later was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs.

He participated in all major events and accompanied the Poglavnik, Pavelić, on a visit to Adolf Hitler on 7 June 1941.

He was the creator and signatory of most of the decrees pursuant to which genocide and acts of terror were carried out against the population of the Independent State of Croatia, on the grounds of racial, religious, national or ideological affiliation.

From October 1942 to April 1943 he was Minister of Religion and Education.

In May 1945 he fled to the United States of America and settled in the Los Angeles area. The authorities of the Federal National Republic of Yugoslavia and later the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ)declared him to be a war criminal and sought his extradition on several occasions between 1951 and 1986.

In February 1986 he was extradited to the SFRJ. At his trial, held in Zagreb in April and May that year, he was sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out. He died in prison on 16 January 1988.