News 26 Apr 17

Croatian Party Ex-Leader ‘Was Yugoslav Informer’

A former Yugoslav State Security Service official alleged in court that the former leader of the governing Croatian Democratic Union, Tomislav Karamarko, was an informer in the 1980s.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Tomislav Karamarko. Photo: Beta.

Ante Barisic, a former head of department at the Yugoslav State Security Service, SDS’s Zagreb office between 1980 and 1990, claimed at Zagreb municipal court on Tuesday that Tomislav Karamarko was an informer for the SDS in the 1980s.

Barisic’s testimony was heard during the hearing of a private libel suit launched in August 2015 by Karamarko, the former president of the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, over allegations that he was a security service informer.

Karamarko is suing against former SDS official and 1990s politician Josip Manolic, who said in an interview with the Croatian weekly Nacional in June 2015 that Karamarko was an informer for the SDS – better known as UDBA – in the 1980s.

Karamarko told the court in December 2015 that he was not an informer but “a victim of UDBA” in the 1980s, claiming that the security service threatened him because he had an audience with the Pope at the Vatican.

He alleges that the Nacional interview harmed him and caused discomfort to him and his family.

He also sued Nacional for libel in September 2015 and won the case before Zagreb municipal court in January 2016.

The verdict said that the interview must be removed from the Internet and that the weekly must pay Karamarko 9,100 euros in compensation. An appeal is still pending.

Barisic told the court on Tuesday that Manolic’s claims were true and that information about Karamarko’s “recruitment” into the service should exist in official documentation, Croatian news agency HINA reported.

To support his claims, Barisic said that he, “as SDS operative official” had information regarding a special operation conducted at the SDS offices in Zagreb and the coastal city of Split, codenamed ‘Trs’ (‘Reeds’).

The operation aimed to control the activities of “certain religious groups” seen as hostile towards the state, during which some people who were put under surveillance and investigated were prepared for collaboration with the SDS.

He said there was “no direct claim in the documentation” about the people under surveillance that Karamarko was an informer, but insisted that this could be understood from the documents.

“I personally wrote and signed the documentation so, an insight into the ‘Trs’ operational file can give answers. I can’t say in which capacity the private plaintiff [Karamarko] is mentioned in that documentation as this can be determined with an insight into this documentation,” he added.

Barisic further claimed that SDS agents continued to work on Karamarko’s recruitment outside the service’s office in Zagreb, which he said was “an integral part of the process of establishing a cooperative relationship with the State Security Service”.

“The cooperation agreement had to be voluntary because human rights would otherwise be violated. They could use compromising documents to convince someone to cooperate,” he explained.

Barisic claimed that SDS used certain documents that pointed to Karamarko’s alleged role in certain offences, although he did not specify which ones.

During cross-examination in court, Karamarko interrupted Barisic a few times.

“Shame on you, you beat people, and now you’re saying something,” Karamarko told Barisic during his testimony.

Karamarko’s lawyers said that Barisic was “motivated by personal animosity”.

They also claimed that Barisic did not offer any material evidence to support his claims.

The court accepted Karamarko’s proposal to call another former SDS official to testify, and will also ask the Croatian State Archives to provide documentation regarding operation ‘Trs’.

The next hearing will be held in June.

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