News 19 Apr 17

Perkovic Defence Lodges Appeal Before German Court

The lawyer of former Yugoslav State Security Service officer Josip Perkovic confirmed they had filed an appeal before the court in the case of the murder of a Croatian émigré in Germany in 1983.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Zdravko Mustac (left) and Josip Perkovic (right) in court in Munich. Photo: Beta/Peter Kneffel

The defence team for Josip Perkovic, a former official in the Yugoslav State Security Service, SDS, confirmed to BIRN that an appeal was filed on Tuesday before the court in Munich, Germany.

Perkovic, alongside his former superior, Zdravko Mustac, was sentenced to life in prison in August for abetting the murder of Croat émigré Stjepan Djurekovic in 1983 in a garage in Wolfsrathausen near Munich, where he printed anti-Yugoslav propaganda material.

Mustac then headed the Croatian branch of the SDS while Perkovic was chief of its department responsible for émigrés.

They are alleged to have staged the killing to silence Djurekovic because he knew about the alleged criminal activities of Vanja Spiljak - son of Mika Spiljak, then a member of the Yugoslav presidency - at the state-owned energy company INA.

Djurekovic had worked for INA as marketing director before he fled to Germany in 1982.

Anto Nobilo, Perkovic's lawyer, confirmed to BIRN that the appeal was filed, adding that that Judge Manfred Dauster should have excluded himself from the trial.

“The presiding judge of the judges’ panel, Dauster, shouldn’t be a member of the panel because he was in the panel in [Krunoslav] Prates’s case."

“We’re talking about the same criminal act where the co-perpetrators were sentenced on the basis of the same evidence, so Judge Dauster was prejudiced about Perkovic’s guilt before the trial even started,” he said.

A crucial figure in the killing of Djurekovic, SDS informant Krunoslav Prates was jailed for life by a German court in 2008 for his involvement in the murder.

As head of the SDS section dealing with émigrés, Perkovic was Prates’s handler, the judge said.

However, Prates said during the trial that the allegation was “a made-up story”, going back on his previous statements to German investigators.

Nobilo said the appeal was also filed because Dauster had rejected proposed testimonies from three insider witnesses for the defence, all former members of the State Security Service.

He said the witnesses would have “testified that the State Security Service organised the operation regarding Djurekovic”, entrusting the task to the late Serbian paramilitary commander, Zeljko Raznatovic “Arkan”.

“The original order was that Djurekovic should be kidnapped, brought to Yugoslavia and tried there,” Nobilo said.

Nobilo concluded that Dauster’s reasoning for rejecting the three mentioned witnesses, “by saying that they come from abroad [outside Germany], which would complicate the case”, was not a valid reason because numerous witnesses had stood trial from the territory of the former Yugoslavia or gave testimonies via video link.

The extradition of Perkovic and Mustac to Germany in 2013 was long drawn out and the trial finally started in October 2014, with both of the accused pleading not guilty.

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