Croatia: Last-Ditch Efforts To Prevent Extradition For Communist Crimes

Josip Perkovic (L) Zdravko Mustac (R)

Josip Perkovic (L) Zdravko Mustac (R)

The District court in Zagreb ruled on Wednesday 8 January that the communist-era intelligence chief, Josip Perkovic, could be extradited to Germany where he is wanted over a killing of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Djurekovic in the 1980s.
On Thursday 9 January the District court in Velika Gorica (near Zagreb airport) ruled that the second ex-communist secret service chief, Zdravko Mustac, couldn’t be extradited to Germany (wanted for the same crime as Perkovic) because of Statute of Limitations.

Some 15 Km apart, two courts in Croatia, rule in opposite directions – on the same crime of murder that occurred in Germany in 1983!

You may well ask: how on Earth can this be possible?
Aren’t all courts in the country supposed to rule in similar ways on the same cases, under the same laws? You’d think so. But, we are dealing here with what seem to be last-ditch efforts by lawyers defending Josip Perkovic to prevent his extradition to Germany to face the German courts on what is classified as a “communist crime” or political assassination of persons by the ex-Yugoslav communist regime.

So, since last Wednesday, Perkovic’s lawyer Ante Nobilo (whose law office also defends Mustac!) has been working frantically, trying to make a case against extradition court decision, pending an appeal. He went on saying how Statute of Limitations or related laws had changed a number of times since 1983 and that his client has the right to chose the one that suits him best. I.e., chose the one under which Statute of Limitations in Croatia precludes his client from being extradited.  Nobilo expressed the view that Perkovic would not receive a just trial in Germany, which is ludicrous! Yesterday, 14 January, Nobilo stated that he has received a statement from Vinko Sindicic (a Yugoslav communist secret police operative convicted in the UK to 15 years prison for attempted assassination of Croat émigré Nikola Stedul in 1988 in Scotland and whose name has also been associated with the murder in Germany of Croat family Sevo) in which he says that he had lied (committed perjury) in the German court which convicted Krunoslav Prates in relation to the murder of the same Stjepan Djurekovic, Perkovic and Mustac are sought for by German court – how miraculously convenient!

To make matters worse for those yearning for justice for victims of communist crimes, the Croatian State Attorney Office has now shown its full colours: it too wants to stifle the extradition to Germany.
Yesterday, 14 January Croatia’s Office of State Attorney, as party to these two cases in Croatian courts, has filed an appeal NOT against the decision made by the court in Velika Gorica against extradition of Mustac BUT against the Zagreb court decision to extradite Perkovic! This has enraged many in Croatia as it’s seen as yet another ploy to defer or prevent processes dealing with communist crimes. Some say that the Croatian State Attorney is on the path to open a whole new trial in Croatia in the case of the murder of Djurekovic in 1983 in Germany! If this is true then the State Attorney, Mladen Bajic, is handing out an indictment of bad and rotten practices against German courts and German judiciary (?).

Some say that Germany as country seeking extradition should file an appeal, while Zeljko Olujic, a well known lawyer and former State Attorney in Croatia, sees the moves by the Croatian Office of State Attorney as attempts to save Perkovic and Mustac from accountability for acts they committed in the former communist Yugoslavia. “That is the opinion of the State Attorney who currently finds himself in times of re-elections and who exclusively flirts with politics, which is scandalous. This what’s happening in Croatia is the twilight of the legal system and the rule of law in the state,” said Olujic for Croatian TV news.

So, to say matters simply, one would have expected the Office of State Attorney to take a different path in ensuring that both District courts delivering on the same case, but different defendants, make similar or same judgments regarding extradition. After all what kind of a country can Croatia be when courts can interpret a simple matter such as Statute of Limitations for murder in such conflicting ways! Only a country which is failing scandalously in transitioning from communism into democracy and only a country that has as its State Attorney a person with heavy political leanings when there should be none – I’d say! The Office State Attorney by appealing one of the court decisions, the one to do with Perkovic’s extradition rather than appealing the other, the one of Mustac’s non-extradition, has clearly taken sides. The side it has taken – not to extradite Perkovic – seems to me to be an attack on judiciary, an attack on democracy, an attack on the people and victims of communist crimes to whom these cases under Germany’s arrest warrant mean a great deal.

A spark of good hope in these matters, though, is that the family of Stjepan Djurekovic has, according to Croatian HRT TV news, filed an appeal against the court decision in Velika Gorica and seek Mustac’s extradition or that all courts dealing with the issue of extradition rule similarly. Whether the court will accept their appeal is yet to be seen given that they were not a party to the proceedings.

After all these appeals in lower courts are exhausted we may yet be pleasantly surprised because the Supreme court in Croatia will be the step in this process that will deliver the final ruling on extradition of Perkovic and Mustac and it will need to rule on equal ground in both cases. We may yet celebrate the extradition of Perkovic and Mustac to Germany. But then again, we may be in for an even bumpier and a more torturous path for dealing with communist crimes in Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

RELATED POST

Croatia – Communist Crimes: Tito Directed Political Murders Abroad

Josip Perkovic   Photo: slobodnadalmacija.hr

Josip Perkovic Photo: slobodnadalmacija.hr

Hina news as shared by Croatian news portal dalje.com
Germany to ask Croatia to arrest ex-Yugoslav agent on 1 July

On 1 July, when it enters the European Union, Croatia can expect a warrant from Germany for the arrest of a former Yugoslav intelligence officer, Josip Perkovic, who is believed to have masterminded the murder of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Djurekovic near Munich in June 1983, the German Focus weekly reported on Sunday.
The German federal prosecutorial authorities will forward to Zagreb, on the first day of Croatia’s EU membership, the warrant for the arrest of Perkovic, 68, and for his extradition to Germany.
Perkovic, who used to be the at the helm of Croatia’s branch of the Yugoslav State Security Service (SDS), is charged with having sent murderers to kill dissident Djurekovic.
In 2008, Krunoslav Prates, a Croatian citizen was convicted by the Munich High State Court to life imprisonment for his role in the execution of Djurekovic, who was found dead in a garage in the Bavarian town of Wolfratshausen. Focus recalled that five shots were fired at the victim and that also he was hit by an axe to his head.
According to the weekly, arrest warrants for five more people have also been issued in Germany, as they are believed to have been Perkovic’s aides.
Prates was arrested in July 2005 on suspicion that he had helped prepare the Djurekovic murder in 1983. The German state prosecution suspects Djurekovic was killed by members of the then Yugoslav State Security Service (SDS). Djurekovic left the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) for political reasons after the Yugoslav authorities labelled him a dangerous Croatian nationalist.
During the trial, Prates admitted to having cooperated with the Yugoslav intelligence, notably the chief of the Croatian SDS branch Perkovic, but denied any involvement in Djurekovic’s death.
Perkovic allegedly gave keys to the garage to as yet unidentified persons, who waited for Djurekovic in the garage outside Munich on 28 June 1983 and shot him dead.
During the announcement of the verdict in July 2008, the Munich court criticised Croatia for showing no interest in the case and for failing to see to it that Perkovic also appeared before the court for this case.
The judgement in the Prates case also reads that from 1970 to 1989, 22 Croats, who fled to Germany, were killed by the Yugoslav secret services.
In late 2010, the Der Spiegel magazine reported that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere received a request to revoke the Federal Cross of Merit that had been awarded to Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito by German President Gustav Heinemann in 1974.
The request for the posthumous revocation of the highest German order, which is awarded only to heads of state, has been filed by an unnamed citizen, “a victim of a failed assassination attempt by Yugoslav secret services.”
Der Spiegel mentioned the request in an article dealing with investigations by German federal prosecutors and the Ministry of the Interior into the killings of Croats in exile by Yugoslav secret services during the 1970-1989 period. It said that 14 people were currently under investigation and that international warrants had been issued for the arrest of six persons, two of whom had served as intelligence officers.
The weekly then gave details of the sentence handed down by the Munich High District Court in July 2008 against Prates for his role in the 1983 murder of Djurekovic.
The sentence said that Tito “directed political murders abroad” until his death in 1980, and that “Yugoslav political officials ordered murders that were carried out in the Federal Republic of Germany.”
The Munich court named Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac, also a former Yugoslav secret service agent, as being involved in the murder of Stjepan Djurekovic. The German federal prosecution at the time announced more investigations in connection with the murders of 22 Croatian activists in exile in Germany.
Mustac, 71, has claimed that he had not been acquainted with orders for killings Croat emigrants, however, he has said that the Yugoslav authorities “had the right to energetically deal with “extremist Croats in exile”. (Hina)

__________

Not only should Tito’s medals be revoked posthumously (bravo citizens of Germany!) but a posthumous criminal indictment must also be considered and contemplated. Evidence points to the conclusion that it was on Tito’s orders that multitudes of Croatian émigrés who fled Yugoslavia after World War II – and managed to escape a brutal death in communist purges – were murdered and labelled extremists and all they did was not agree with communist regime and social and national agenda. So, in simple terms, the communists turned into terrorists who hunted down anti-communists worldwide calling them extremists! The sad thing is that there are still a number of former communists in high places who still think like this, who still justify political murder as righteous! They must not succeed in their endeavours of glorifying communism. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: