EASTON & LEVY
March 29, 2000
NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Popeís Apology too little, too late for Victims of Roman Catholic Ethnic Cleansing
The recent apology by Pope John Paul II holds little weight with the heirs and few elderly survivors of one of the bloodiest chapters in the Roman Catholic Church, the 1941-1945 atrocities by the Croatian Nazis known as the Ustashe. In April 1941, multi-ethnic Yugoslavia fell to the Nazis who wasted no time in installing the fanatical Ante Pavelicís Catholic Ustashe in power in Croatia. With the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church and the active participation of clergy, especially Franciscan monks, the Ustashe killed 750,000 Serbs, Jews, and Roma in an orgy of violence that shocked even some of the Germans and revolted their Italian allies.
Survivors are now suing to recover hundreds of millions of dollars of property looted by the Croatian Nazis, converted to gold, and held by the Vatican Bank for safekeeping. Rumors had circulated about the fantastic wealth that allowed Croatian war criminals to escape justice and live lives of luxury in South America, Spain, and even California until a June 1998 US State Department report confirmed the story.
Serb and Jewish survivors have filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco Federal Court seeking an accounting from the Vatican Bank and Franciscan Order. While the Vatican Bank has repeatedly denied their involvement, service of the lawsuit on the Franciscan Order took place in Oakland on Tuesday, March 15, appropriately upon a Croatian Franciscan priest, and on the Vatican Bank in Rome at noon on Friday, March 17.
According to Easton & Levy, California lawyers representing victims and their organizations, "the defendantsí responses will put the Popeís apology to the test; will the Vatican continue to hide their past crimes under their cassocks, or face the truth of their past actions in the spirit of John Paul II?"
The original Complaint was filed November 15,1999 and the First Amended Complaint on January 21, 2000 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, C99-4941MMC.
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