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Latest Benetton Poster Provokes Croat Outrage With AM-Yugoslavia

March 11, 1994

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) _ The state prosecutor began considering Friday a Defense Ministry request to ban Benetton’s latest provocative ad showing the blood-soaked uniform of a Croat soldier killed in Bosnia.

The ministry assailed the photograph as morbid and claimed it was banned in Italy. It also wants criminal charges to be bought against violators of the proposed ban.

In Italy, Marina Gallantini, a spokeswoman for the trendy Italian clothing manufacturer, denied the photo had been prohibited, saying it was no longer on display because the ad campaign was over.

The ad is not on display in Croatia’s Benetton stores, but the bloody, bullet-pierced T-shirt and fatigues are visible on billboards along the Zagreb-Ljubljana highway.

Gallantini said those pictures would be removed March 15, the end of the ad campaign in Croatia.

The poster is the latest in a series of provocative themes by Benetton that have shown a priest kissing a nun; the dying moments of an AIDS victim, and company head Luciano Benetton in the nude.

Benetton says the uniform belongs to Bosnian Croat Marinko Gagro, killed last July while fighting Muslims near Mostar in southwest Bosnia.

Gagro’s father first was said to have approved the ad, seeing it as part of an anti-war effort. But he later denied the clothes were his son’s, and has threatened to sue Benetton for misrepresentation.

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano criticized the ad, saying the dead should receive ″the dignity, respect and even the peace that has been denied Marinko.″