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Serbia Blocks Plan To Build Mall On Site Of Former Concentration Camps

(JTA) — Serbia’s parliament will block plans for construction, including of a shopping mall, on former concentration camps, the country’s president said.

President Aleksandar Vucic told Efraim Zuroff, the Eastern Europe Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on Thursday in Belgrade that a bill that would make the plans impossible would be passed this year, Zuroff told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The law would also create a memorial center in Belgrade for tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Roma killed by Nazis in World War II.

Originally a 1937 trade fair complex built in the then capital of Yugoslavia, one of the former camps, Staro Sajmiste, became a death camp when Nazis invaded the country in 1941. Some 30,000 died there, including 7,000 Jews.

After the fall of communism, this and another site of a Nazi-era camp in Belgrade, Topovske Supe, were partly sold off by the state but have been spared large-scale redevelopment, Bloomberg noted in a report Thursday.

After the war, parts of Staro Sajmiste were used as art studios, a kindergarten, a nightclub, and a restaurant. It even housed a local office of Vucic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party. The land of Topovske Supe is slated for building a $220 million shopping mall by the closely held company Delta Holding. That may be prevented through mandatory expropriation, according to the draft bill.

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