BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- A document removed from the Yugoslavia Military Museum may have been used to forge a cable that linked Austrian President Kurt Waldheim to war crimes, the head of the museum said Friday.
Sekula Joksimovic said someone inspecting museum documents last January did not return a July 7, 1942, cable by an official of the Nazi puppet state of Croatia.
A cable in the same form, but dated July 22 and with different wording, was printed in the West German weekly Der Spiegel Feb. 1. The cable said Lt. Waldheim, a German army officer in Yugoslavia, ordered the deportation of 4,224 Yugoslavs, most of them women and children, to concentration camps.
Joksimovic suggested the genuine cable was used to provide the form on which the incriminating text was typed.
On Feb. 10, a commission of Yugoslav historians and experts declared the cable was a fake and a Belgrade district attorney's office opened an investigation.
'I hope it won't be difficult for authorities to find out who falsified the document and why,' Joksimovic said.
Yugoslav journalist Danko Vasovic sold a facsimile of the purported cable to Der Spiegel. A military historian, Dusan Plenca, said he had discovered the document in Yugoslav archives and gave a photocopy to Vasovic. Plenca promised to produce the document but failed to do so.
The appearance of the cable came near the end of a five-month investigation into Waldheim's war record by a panel of historians.
A panel report earlier this month said the former U.N. secretary-general was aware of war crimes in the Balkans, where he served, but did nothing to stop them. The report also said he concealed his past.
The historians' report has sparked a political crisis in Austria. Waldheim's support among the public and some officials of Austria's coalititon government has declined steadily but the president refuses to resign.