news 09 Jan 14

Croatia Refuses to Extradite Ex-Yugoslav Intelligence Chief

A court ruled that Zdravko Mustac, a former secret service chief from the Yugoslav period wanted for his alleged involvement in an assassination in Germany, will not be extradited.

Josip Ivanovic
Zdravko Mustac. Photo: Beta

The county court in Velika Gorica ruled on Thursday that Mustac will not be sent to Germany to face prosecution – a decision that came as a surprise after a Zagreb court ruled the previous day that another ex-intelligence official suspected of involvement in the same killing, Josip Perkovic, will be extradited.

The Velika Gorica court’s ruling was based on the statute of limitations since the murder was committed back in 1983.

Lawyer Anto Nobilo, who represented both men, said Perkovic should not be extradited either.

“We did a thorough investigation across Europe. Absolutely everywhere, the statute of limitations, according to municipal law, is a barrier to extradition,” Nobilo said.

Germany demanded the extradition of Perkovic and Mustac because of their alleged links to the murder of a Yugoslav dissident that was believed to have been carried out by the Yugoslav Secret Service, known as UDBA.

It is believed that the victim, Djurekovic, a former commercial director of INA, Croatia’s oil company, was killed because of his alleged involvement in corruption and because he was thought to be financing exiled sympathisers of the nationalist Ustasha movement.

However Perkovic and Mustac both claimed that they were the victims of false testimony given by a former field agent, Vinko Sindicic.

The case has proved controversial because Croatia last year refused to change its extradition law to adopt the use of European arrest warrants – a move alleged to have been an attempt to shield Perkovic – until Zagreb was threatened with sanctions by Brussels and reversed its stance.

Former intelligence agent Krunoslav Prates was jailed for committing the murder in 2008.

Zagreb received a warrant from Berlin for Mustac’s and Perkovic’s arrest just as Croatia entered the EU on July 1 last year.

However, only two days before accession, the Croatian parliament decided to radically change the law on legal cooperation with EU member states, deciding that it would not extradite citizens accused of crimes committed before 2002.

The legislation became known as the ‘Lex Perkovic’ because of its suspected link to the ex-spy service official’s case.

After the European Commission made several threats to impose sanctions, the Croatian government decided to abolish the time limit starting on January 1 this year.

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