...while media reports about it as Jewish gold
Extradited Croat general enjoys wealth, military honors - Feature
Posted : Thu, 02 Oct 2008 14:30:18 GMT
Author : DPA
Category : Europe (World)
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Zagreb - Former Croatian general Vladimir Zagorec, who was extradited from Austria on Thursday for trial on embezzlement charges, is one of the most decorated Croatian generals in history despite never spending a day on the battlefield. Zagorec, 44, a weapons buyer for Croatian forces during the Balkan nation's 1991-95 war of independence from Yugoslavia, has 13 medals including a medal for courage. His mentor, the late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, who led the war for independence, has only nine, local media reported.
Zagorec is considered one of Croatia's richest men. The weekly Nacional estimated his wealth at more than 36 million dollars.
Despite only achieving a high school education before the war, he graduated from Zagreb University's transportation department after the war by passing several exams in one day. The university became infamous in mid September when almost 100 people, including 21 professors, were detained for selling university diplomas.
Zagorec entered the war in 1991 as a chauffeur but was soon promoted and began purchasing and smuggling arms. Being Tudjman's favorite, he soon became aid to the minister of defence and the head of the Alan company, which purchased weapons.
It is believed that he then stole 5 million dollars worth of diamonds given to Tudjman by Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, the head of Croatia's Catholic church. Croatian media has speculated that the diamonds were taken from Jews during World War II and handed to the church.
Zagorec, who retired after the war, has lived in Austria since 2000, making a fortune in the real estate business.
He was arrested in Vienna in 2007 after Croatia started legal proceedings against him, but was subsequently released on bail. Croatian prosecutors allege that Zagorec also embezzled money sent by Croats living abroad for the defence of the country.
He was arrested in Vienna again on September 26 after authorities deemed him a flight risk. He was flown to Zagreb Thursday and will appear in court on Friday.