BELGRADE – Croatia’s protest over Serbia’s criticism of the rehabilitation of war criminal Aloysius Stepinac, the religious leader of the WWII-era fascist Independent State of Croatia, is a disgrace, says Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.

“Stepinac blessed the genocide against Serbs, Jews and Roma, and even formed a commission for converting Serbs (to Catholicism). No one will ever keep Serbia from speaking out against rehabilitations of war criminals from the era of fascism and the Ustasha Independent State of Croatia,” Dacic said Monday.

Serbia wants good-neighbourly relations and reconciliation, but “no one will humiliate Serbia and the victims of the Ustasha terror,” Dacic said in a statement released by the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Croatian Hina news agency reported earlier on Monday the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs had sent a note of protest to Serbia over “unacceptable statements” by Serbian officials following an annulment of a 1946 verdict sentencing Stepinac, a Roman Catholic cardinal.