ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 – A court in Klagenfurt, Austria on Thursday sentenced a 48-year-old Croatian citizen to 18 months’ imprisonment for repeating the offence of displaying Nazi symbols, i.e. showing the Hitler salute at this year’s Bleiburg commemoration, Austrian media reported.
The man pleaded guilty and said the Hitler salute would be “perceived more mildly” in Croatia, but conceded that he had drunk too much and done a “really stupid thing.”
He has been in custody since mid-May. Two months of the 18-month sentence are non-suspended.
Prosecutor Christian Pirker said the salute was a deliberate act of provocation because it was done after the commemoration.
Judge Gernor Kugi took the perpetrator’s high intoxication as a mitigating circumstance and called the sentence as “preventative” for participants in future Bleiburg commemorations.
The commemoration is held annually in Loibach Field near the town of Bleiburg for soldiers of Croatia’s Nazi-allied Ustasha regime who were killed there at the end of World War II.
This year’s gathering was held under tighter security after Austria added symbols of the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia to the list of banned symbols from the Nazi period.
The Croat sentenced today was the only offender at this year’s commemoration. Last year, seven persons were arrested for displaying Nazi symbols.
More news about the Bleiburg commemoration can be found in the Politics section.