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Serbia Protests Croatian Statue Of Assassin

Serbia has issued a strong protest against a new statue in Croatia of an ultranationalist independence fighter who assassinated the Yugoslav ambassador to Sweden in 1971.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry demanded on August 1 the removal of the monument to Miro Baresic that was unveiled in the seaside Croatian village of Drage on July 31.

Croatian cabinet members and prominent public figures attended the unveiling.

Baresic was a supporter of the Ustasha -- the Nazi puppet regime -- who campaigned and fought for Croatian independence from Yugoslavia.

He shot Ambassador Vladimir Rolovic in the Yugoslav Embassy in Stockholm and was sentenced in Sweden to life in prison.

But a group of Croatian far rightists hijacked a Scandinavian Airlines plane in 1972 and forced officials to release Baresic.

He fled to Paraguay but was eventually recaptured and extradited to Sweden in 1980.

In 1991, Baresic was released from prison and returned to Croatia where he was killed while fighting against Serbian-led forces.

Baresic is considered a terrorist in Serbia but a hero among many Croats due to his devotion to Croatian independence.

Based on reporting by AP and The New York Times