Assassin Who Sparked WWI Gets Statue

Assassin Who Sparked WWI Gets StatueAssassin Who Sparked WWI Gets Statue

A statue of a Bosnian Serb nationalist whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand 101 years ago sparked World War I and who is seen here as an icon of Serb patriotism was inaugurated on Sunday.

The 2-meter-high bronze statue of Gavrilo Princip was unveiled in a park in Serbia’s capital Belgrade, AFP reported.

“Princip was a hero, a symbol of ideas of liberty ... Others may think what they want,” said Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, who attended the event.

Princip, who was just 19 when he shot the archduke in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, remains a controversial figure in the Balkans, where the scars of ethnic wars in the 1990s are still fresh.

While some see him as a fervent Serb nationalist who sought to liberate Slavs from their Austro-Hungarian occupiers, others regard him as an insurgent who unleashed horrific bloodshed on the world.

He shot dead the archduke and his wife with a Browning revolver, setting off a chain of events that sucked Europe’s great powers into four years of unprecedented violence that redrew the world map.

The war lasted more than 52 months and left some 10 million dead and 20 million injured or maimed on its battlefields. Millions more perished under occupation through disease, hunger or deportation.