Croatian court authorizes extradition of ex-spy official to Germany
January 13, 2014 Leave a comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A court in the Croatian capital Zagreb has ruled in favor of the extradition of the country’s former spy chief to Germany, where he is wanted for the communist-era murder of a Yugoslav dissident. Josip Perković was a senior official in the Yugoslav State Security Service (known by its Serbo-Croatian acronym, UDBA) during the closing stages of the Cold War. He is a prime suspect in the murder of Stjepan Đureković, a Yugoslav defector who was killed by UDBA agents in 1983. Đureković, who was of Croatian nationality, defected from Yugoslavia to Germany in 1982, while he was director of the state-owned INA oil company. Upon his arrival in Germany, he was granted political asylum and began associating with Croatian nationalist émigré groups that were active in the country. He was killed on July 28, 1983, in Wolfratshausen, Bavaria, in a UDBA operation codenamed DUNAV. In 2009, following testimonies by several former UDBA agents, who were arrested in connection with the crime, the Office of the German Federal Prosecutor issued a European Arrest Warrant for Perković, who is believed to have authorized Đureković’s assassination. However, Croatia consistently refused to honor the warrant and allowed Perković to live in Zagreb. The reason, according to observers, was that the former spy official was instrumental in helping set up Croatia’s first post-independence intelligence agency, which he directed for the first few years of its existence. His contribution to the establishment of Croatia’s intelligence apparatus has contributed to his political legacy in the country, which effectively shielded him from extradition to Germany. Last year, however, the European Commission exercised considerable pressure on Croatia, now a member of the European Union, threatening sanctions should Zagreb fail to comply with Perković’s German extradition order. On New Year’s Day, the former spy official was quietly apprehended in the leafy Zagreb suburb where he lives. Last Wednesday, a court in the Croatian capital ruled in favor of his extradition to Germany. Reuters reported that “neither the [Croatian] government nor the office of the president wanted to comment on the [court’s] decision”. Perković, meanwhile, has denied all links with Đureković’s murder and has offered to testify before a court in Croatia. His lawyers said last week that they were preparing to launch an appeal before Croatia’s Supreme Court.