By Filip Rudic
The Belgrade Appeals Court on Tuesday confirmed the Higher Court’s first-instance decision to dismiss the request to rehabilitate Milan Nedic, the wartime leader who headed a puppet government in Nazi-occupied Serbia.
“According to the findings of the Appeals Court, contrary to the claims made in the appeal, the first-instance court’s decision was just,” the court said in its decision.
Rehabilitation hearings began in December 2015 on the request of Nedic’s family. They wanted the court to declare Nedic a victim of political persecution by Yugoslavia’s former Communist authorities.
They also wanted the Serbian court to annul a previous decision by a Yugoslav court to strip Nedic of his civil rights and confiscate his property.
Over the course of the trial, the court heard testimonies from several historians and reviewed thousands of pages of contemporary documents.
The process attracted controversy as several experts pointed out that Serbian law does not allow the rehabilitation of people who collaborated with the Nazis.
Far-right groups as well as anti-fascists and leftists occasionally gathered in front of the Higher Court to show support for or opposition to the rehabilitation demand.
Nedic headed a so-called Government of National Salvation, a puppet administration in Serbia during World War II that operated from August 1941 to October 1944.
When this government was disbanded, Nedic was evacuated to Austria by the Nazis. He was eventually captured by the British forces who surrendered him to the Yugoslav Partisans.
After the war, Nedic was charged with collaboration with the Germans and treachery, but the legal process was cut short when he committed suicide in a prison cell in February 1946.