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A man in police custody admitted vandalizing a Jewish school in Vienna, an investigator said Monday.
The man, whose name has not been released, is probably a Croatian from Zagreb who came to Vienna as a tourist a week ago, said Andreas Krajcsy of the Vienna police's section on state protection and anti-terrorism. Windows at the school were smashed early Sunday. He is suspected of smashing windows and damaging other objects inside the school.
Austrian authorities were sending a photo and fingerprints of the man to their Croatian counterparts to confirm his identity because he did not have a passport on him, Krajcsy said. Croatian authorities have already confirmed the existence of a person bearing the name given by the suspect.
"It was anti-Semitic. He told us he didn't like Jews," Krajcsy said.
Following the act of vandalism, Ephraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israel office, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that it was not surprising "that events like this take place in a country that protects Croatian Nazi war criminals."
He referred specifically to the case of Milivoj Asner, "a Croation Nazi war criminal living in Klagenfort whose extradition has been sought for over a year by the Croatian authorities who want to put him on trial for his role as the police chief of the city of Pozegga during 1941-42."
The Austrians, he said, "refuse to send Asner back to Croatia despite the fact that he's not an Austrian citizen and there is ostensibly no reason that they haven't acceded to Croatian extradition request."
He concluded by pointing out that Austria "has not successfully prosecuted Nazi war criminals in more than 30 years, and in that atmosphere of impunity, perhaps it's not surprising that such terrible events take place."
Ariel Muzicant, the head of Vienna's Jewish Community, expressed shock and disbelief at the devastation. "One asks oneself however, what goes through the mind of a man who attacks a school and destroys so much," Muzicant was quoted as saying.
He did not provide an estimate of the damage caused.
"We're now in the process of putting everything in order," he said.