Croatia: Communist Crimes – Two Criminals Down Many Yet To Fall

Zdravko Mustac (L) Josip Perkovic (R) Sentenced to life imprisonment in relation to communist crimes of complicity in murder of Croatian dissident Stjepan Djurekovic

Zdravko Mustac (L) Josip Perkovic (R)
Sentenced to life imprisonment
in relation to communist crimes of complicity in murder
of Croatian dissident
Stjepan Djurekovic


Croatia’s former Social Democrat (formerly known as League of Communists) government led by Zoran Milanovic as PM, as well as president Ivo Josipovic, had tried their utmost to avoid the extradition to Germany of former communist Yugoslavia secret police/UDBA operators, Josip Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac. They even passed a law in July 2013 (known as Lex Perkovic) three days before Croatia joined the EU, that prevented the extradition of Croatian citizens to other countries for crimes committed before 2002, hence ensuring no crime committed under the sheet of communist purges during the time of former Yugoslavia would be brought before the court regardless of the fact that in a civilised world murder has no statute of limitations. After Croatia’s courts had in 2014 ruled that Perkovic and Mustac could be extradited to Germany, extradition soon followed and the former head of Yugoslavia’s secret service, Zdravko Mustac, and a one-time subordinate, Josip Perkovic faced trial over accusations regarding the 1983 killing of a Croatian dissident in Bavaria, Stjepan Djurekovic for the first time in Munich in October 2014.
The German court in Munich had Wednesday 3 August 2016 found guilty of complicity in murder and sentenced the two former top Yugoslavian spies (spy chief Zdravko Mustac, 74, and ex-agent Josip Perkovic, 71) to life imprisonment for the 1983 murder of the Croatian national Stjepan Djurekovic, who was opposed to Yugoslav communist regime, in the then West Germany.

Stjepan Djurekovic

Stjepan Djurekovic

The court finds that the accused Zdravko M. had asked the accused Josip P. to plan and prepare for the murder of Stjepan Djurekovic,” the court said in a statement, Deutsche Welle reports. The state prosecution had in its final words last week turned the crime of assisting in murder into participating or complicity in murder with intent, which carries a life sentence under German laws.

Djurekovic was one of 22 Croatians murdered on orders from Belgrade (Serbia/Yugoslav capital) in Germany between 1970 and 1989. Most of those cases remain untried. This time around, prosecutors successfully argued that the spies had sought to silence Djurekovic who had information about alleged illegal business dealings by the son of a leading Yugoslav politician. Djurekovic was killed (shot and bludgeoned with a meat clever) in a garage that was used as a print office in the Bavarian town of Wolfratshausen. He was shot multiple times and hit with a cleaver by three still unidentified people.

The prime motive was to kill a regime critic, a separatist,” Manfred Dauster, the presiding judge, told the court on Wednesday. “Djurekovic

Judge Manfred Dauster

Judge Manfred Dauster

was to be muzzled – politically, but also physically.”


The finding was based on the fact that at the time, 1983, Zdravko Mustac was the chief of the Croatian arm of Yugoslav State Security Service

(more commonly known as State Security Administration/UDBA) while Josip Perkovic was in the position of head of Zagreb UDBA Section II (in charge of the department dealing with Croatian émigrés abroad) and was the immediate superior of the spy Krunoslav Prates (convicted 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment for participating the murder of Stjepan Djurekovic) – Judge Manfred Dauster explained.


The defense had sought acquittal, citing a lack of evidence. Attorneys for Perkovic and Mustac plan to appeal the verdict to Germany’s federal high court. Should the sentences stick, Perkovic and Mustac could apply to serve them back home and if appeal does not succeed and life sentence stays then in Croatia that would translate to 40 years prison.
A reaction to this finding by Zoran Milanovic, leader of Social Democrats who is running as PM hopeful in the coming September elections, included “I am shocked by that court judgment … if it’s true (they committed those crimes) then they have received the most lenient of sentences … I regret this decision was not made in Croatia.”

What a repulsive, odious, low-life of a politician.


It was he, Zoran Milanovic, who headed to moves in 2013 in refusing to act on EU arrest warrants, who headed the government that introduced the law against extradition in 2013, it was he, Zoran Milanovic, who fought tooth and nail not to help the trial against Perkovic and Mustac get off the ground in Germany or anywhere else for that matter. It was, it is he, Zoran Milanovic, who leads all blockades against the processing of communist crimes.


Up until now, the need, the will and the ways to process and punish the horrific crimes committed for and on behalf of the communist regime of former Yugoslavia (including Croatia) had not truly or substantially found their effective expression. Many attempts have been sabotaged and alleged perpetrators and accomplices protected by those who call themselves antifascists (former communists, nostalgics for Yugoslavia). Those who pursued justice for victims of communist crimes were and still are branded fascists, revisionists, Nazis, Ustashas… To demonstrate the depravity of former communists’ sense of justice one can only revisit the 2014 trial against late Josip Boljkovac (friend of former president Stjepan Mesic, who is currently trying to resurrect himself into politics by being included on Social Democrats’ election ticket) relating to the murder in 1945 after WWII had ended of 21 innocent people where the Croatian court found that Josip Boljkovac was not really to blame (even if there were strong indications of his complicity in some body of evidence before the court) for their murder (or bear any responsibility) but that the real culprit was the communists system. How a system without people can murder people is only clear to former communists, it seems.


Many say the past should be left behind and we should all work towards the future but that stance in itself is cruel and unjust. It is a stance, without doubt, taken by those who have a great deal to lose and to admit. The only way to a better future is, in fact, to confront the past and punish all crimes against human life committed. The judgment brought down by the German court last week against Perkovic and Mustac puts names to the communist crimes perpetrated and this surely must serve as motivation and assistance in efforts to process as many communist crimes as possible. While national reconciliation is necessary, it would be a gross mistake to believe that collective amnesia and impunity will do any good. It will not because crime does not pay, in the end truth will out.


Seen as an absolute nightmare for 45 years after WWII by majority of Croatian émigrés, especially, and by most of those in Croatia in the HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union who were the driving force in the 1990’s creation of the modern independent state of Croatia, the baleful UDBA (communist secret service) managed to sneak through the recent war of Croatia’s secession (1991 – 1995) and survived the regime change/secession from Yugoslavia. It rallied behind the first president of Croatia Franjo Tudjman, in order to avoid “lustration”, with most of its senior executives becoming cogs in the new machinery of the new Croatian state, when they should have been lustrated or taken away from those positions. Ministries, the Parliament, media, big business, administrations, diplomacy — rare are public fields where these former “agents/suradnici” (aka “snitches”) don’t hold major positions. I guess such a mix was unavoidable in the beginnings, at times of war, but not for a moment longer.
If at last lustration does not occur in Croatia and new governments continue to be run by non-repentant old communists and their younger “liberal” offspring, the reticence or blatant refusal to pursue prosecution of communist crimes is bound to continue and the price to be paid is surely to be a form of eternal political unrest and intolerance.


UDBABorn in 1946 as part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Yugoslav communist secret service, the UDBA, was conceived as a counter-intelligence agency and a political police, the latter being by far its most important task. The UDBA consisted of four major sectors (“internal enemy,” “hostile emigration,” “foreign espionage,” “high tech espionage”). It employed hundreds of agents, analysts, and agents (“suradnici”), as well as thousands of snitches, i.e. informants (“informatori”). Founded as a dense conspiratorial network, it operated in various regional centres in ex- Yugoslavia, being active in all towns and villages in each constituent ex-Yugoslav republic. Unlike the traditional modus operandi of many other communist countries, local UDBA centres in ex-Yugoslavia enjoyed a large degree of autonomy with each local centre supervising the agents in its respective area. However, the 2nd Section was also in charge of hiring its own quota of undercover agents abroad.
The operatives of the 2nd Section were generally groomed for their prime targets: infiltration of Yugoslav and especially Croat émigrés abroad. As regards the Croatian emigration, the UDBA carried out at least 68 to 69 homicides, 5 abductions whose victims were later executed, 23 attempted murders (with several cases of severely injured victims), 4 abductions whose victims survived and 2 attempted kidnappings.
The 2nd Section in charge of émigrés, whom UDBA labelled as “hostile emigrants”, was particularly violent, as it didn’t hesitate to resort to “offensive” or “special” operations, i.e., assassinations. By bribing and manipulating common criminals (threatening them, or promising them impunity), by fabricating false documents and exerting the most infamous blackmails, it induced naive citizens in ex-Yugoslavia into suicidal plots, or framed them with offences they had never committed. In short, the 2nd Section run by Josip Perkovic – was quite simply an organised communist crime agency.

Efficient in its criminal plots, the UDBA did succeed in undermining the emigrants’ reputation by defaming them as “terrorists” in their host countries. For example, a famous case took place in Australia where, as a result of UDBA media manipulation, six young Croats (the “Croatian Six”) landed behind the bars for 15 years (see Hamish McDonald, “Framed: the untold story about the Croatian Six”, The Sydney Morning Herald of February 11th, 2012).


Robert Zagajski In pursuit of truth about his father's death

Robert Zagajski
In pursuit of truth about
his father’s death

Today, the malodorous UDBA ghosts and other Yugoslavian cloak and dagger circles are still haunting Croatia (and other former Yugoslav states, although, to a seemingly lesser degree Serbia, which was the heart of communist crimes plots operations). Twenty-five years after Croatia’s independence scores of former UDBA hit men of the former Yugoslav regime have not yet been properly and absolutely held to account, nor have they ever atoned for their crimes. There are also several hundreds of mass graves and pits across Croatia filled with bones and remains of innocent victims of communist crimes, for which no one has yet been held responsible, not even the communist regime by name. As to murders committed by UDBA agents and operatives such as the one for which the court in Germany has prescribed a life sentence the hopes for justice burn loud. Robert Zagajski, for instance, was 17 when his father was killed on the orders of the Yugoslav secret service in 1983 – the judgment against Perkovic and Mustac has given him the greatest hope so far that his father Djuro’s brutal death will cease to be an enigma and that someone will be made to answer for it. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


Croatia: Extradition For Alleged Communist Crimes Not Statute-Barred

Josip Perkovic    Photo: Dalibor Urukalovic/PIXSELL

Josip Perkovic Photo: Dalibor Urukalovic/PIXSELL

It’s been a week of nail-biting suspense in Croatia regarding extradition to Germany of Josip Perkovic for crimes associated with specific communist crimes (murder of Croatian émigrés) committed by the former communist Yugoslavia secret police (UDBA).

In spite of all the massive pressure and infuriating underhanded dirty tricks by the pro-communist government and lobby in Croatia to prevent Germany from processing in its courts crimes committed under political motives by the former Yugoslav communist regime a bright dawn has released hope for justice for victims of those crimes.
The Croatian Supreme Court has ruled: Croatia will extradite to Germany Josip Perkovic, former communist Yugoslavia secret police operative who is wanted by Germany for allegedly masterminding the murder in 1983 of Croat émigré Stjepan Djurekovic.
Although the Supreme Court in Croatia ruled on extradition last Friday 17 January, the decision was published yesterday (Tuesday 21st January).
Croatia, which joined the EU in July, initially refused to extradite Perkovic, and two days before joining the EU on 1st July 2013 the pro-communist government led by Social Democrats had changed the country’s relevant law and insisted that only crimes committed after 2002 could be subject to EU arrest warrants/extraditions. Under EU and German pressure,  Croatia amended its laws in line with the EU standards only a couple of months ago, and still its courts ruled differently on same circumstances recently. i.e. judicially unsustainable differences in interpreting statute of limitation had resulted in one District court ruling extradition and the other against, as I wrote in my previous post.
There’s a window of 10 days from the Supreme Court decision within which Perkovic is to be handed over to German authorities.

A translation from the Croatian language of the most relevant parts of the Supreme Court ruling is as follows:

The Supreme court of the Republic of Croatia by its panel consisting of Supreme court judges, headed by Lidija Grubic Radakovec as panel president and dr. sc. Zdenko Konjic and dr. sc. Marin Mrcela as panel members, with assistance from court adviser Maja Ivanovic Stilinovic as minute taker, in the criminal case against the wanted person Josip Perkovic, for a crime from Article 211, in association with Article 27 of the Crimes Act of Federal Republic of Germany, deliberating on appeals from the State Attorney and the wanted person person Josip Perkovic against whom extradition warrant exists, lodged against the judgment of the District court in Zagreb on 8 January 2014, No. KV-EUN-2/14, at the panel meeting held 17 January 2014 has delivered the following decision:

The Appeals by the State Attorney and the person subject to extradition warrant Josip Perkovic are rejected as unfounded.


District court decision in Zagreb under point I., based on Article 29. Clause 4 and 5 of Judicial cooperation in criminal matters with states members of European Union Act (…) based on the European arrest warrant issued by General federal prosecutor of Federal Republic of Germany (No.) extradition of the wanted person Josip Perkovic is permitted…for the purposes of criminal proceedings against criminal acts from Article 211 in association with Article 29 Crimes Act Fed. Rep. of Germany.

The wanted person has agreed to be returned to the Republic of Croatia after the completion of criminal proceedings for the purposes of serving of the sentence and the principle of special circumstances has been taken into consideration and extradition is permitted under the following conditions:

–    that no criminal proceedings or serving of prison sentence for any other criminal act perpetrated before extradition are permitted against J.P. without the permission from the Republic of Croatia;

–    that he cannot be extradited to any other country member for the purposes of conducting criminal proceedings or serving prison sentence for crimes committed prior to extradition, without the permission of the Republic of Croatia;

–    that he cannot be extradited to a third country for the purposes of conducting criminal proceedings or serving prison sentence for crimes committed prior to extradition, without the permission of the Republic of Croatia;

–    that after final court judgment on criminal sanctions he be returned to the Republic of Croatia for the purposes of serving the criminal sanctions.

… As (temporary) measure (pending extradition) of caution it is forbidden for Josip Perkovic to travel outside the city of Zagreb…

… an act is punishable in accordance with the law enacted in the country where the accused is found (the country upon which arrest warrant has been served, the country that executes that arrest warrant) and the country that seeks extradition in order to conduct the proceedings (the country that seeks extradition, the country that issues the arrest warrant), in which it is enough that the act falls under the criminal law in both countries’.

…if the absolute statute of limitations has not, at time of decision, been reached on the basis of a former legislation the decisions are based in accordance with the current legislation and in the case of extension of statute of limitations under the same legislation .  Accordingly, when dealing with criminal acts under the consideration of double sanctions, and this case does not fall within that category, the event of relative statute of limitations having been reached cannot be a foundation for the rejection of an arrest warrant, but instead, it is exclusively the coming into effect of the absolute statute of limitations at the time when the decision is made.

…It’s not only that the Appellant had not offered evidence which would reasonably show the circumstances under which the court process in Germany would breach the principles of just proceedings, but that possibility was not even shown as likely.  Instead of that, the Appellant offers a personal assessment of the credibility of evidence from a court judgment, emphasizing the testimony of one witness … in which that witness ‘retracts his statements and explains why he gave a false statement’ and two newspaper clippings that write about (non)credibility of the witness’ statement.

Appellant’s view of the (non)credibility of one witness’ statement, accompanied by documentation, which has not passed the examination required under criminal procedure, is not adequate for credibility nor for any eventuality that at court proceedings in Germany, that still needs to implement and assess needed evidence, would deny the right to a just hearing to the wanted person…

In simple words, the Supreme Court in Croatia has ruled that Josip Perkovic must be extradited to Germany. That the time has not been reached after which proceedings for the alleged crime are barred. That, given that the matter is one of criminal offense of murder it is necessary to apply extradition in accordance with the European arrest warrant if statute of limitations has not been reached in the country that is processing the crime. Perkovic claimed that he would not receive a fair hearing in Germany and based his claim on the recent statement by Vinko Sindicic that he had lied under oath in the court hearing in Germany, which convicted Krunoslav Prates for the murder of Stjepan Djurekovic.  The Supreme Court found that Perkovic had provided no credible evidence to corroborate him claim of an unfair hearing in Germany.

Perkovic still has the ability to appeal to the Constitutional court against his extradition. Whether he will take up that option is yet unclear even if he seems to have accepted the fate of extradition and claims innocence. Desperate people, take desperate measures – so anything can happen.

Whether Josip Perkovic is eventually found innocent or guilty of criminal charges brought against him in Germany does not really matter in the wider scheme of things. What is most important though, is the fact that the court case will open up wider the window through which the world will see more of the horrors served against Croats by the totalitarian regime of the former Yugoslavia. The case will strengthen the resolve to pursue justice for victims of communist crimes and weaken the resistance for such justice by the former communists and the so-called antifascists who have for decades justified horrible crimes in the name of “liberty”! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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