Two Former Yugoslav, Croatian Intelligence Officials Sue Germany

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ZAGREB, November 13, 2018 – Yugoslav-era Croatian intelligence officials Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač have sued Germany at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, alleging that a German court did not give them a fair trial for their involvement in the 1983 murder of Croatian dissident Stjepan Đureković, and although the two convicts should have already been transferred to Croatia to serve their sentences, neither their lawyers nor Croatian institutions know when that may happen.

Germany has not forwarded any documents to Croatia regarding Perković and Mustač, whose transfer was made conditional on their serving their sentence in Croatia. According to unofficial sources, the Croatian Justice Ministry has no information on the case either.

Perković’s attorney Anto Nobilo has told Hina that he was told by a German judge in charge of the enforcement of sentences that the German Justice Ministry had been instructed to transfer Perković and Mustač to Croatia to serve their sentences. “We have a document to that effect, but no one is acting on it. I have written to the German Justice Ministry to expedite the matter but have not received any reply yet,” said Nobilo.

Once the requested documents arrive in Croatia, the Zagreb County Court will align the sentence with Croatian laws, which means that Perković and Mustač should receive the highest sentence under the law that is most favourable for them, and such a law dates back to the time of the murder for which they were convicted.

Even though the highest sentence at the time was 20 years’ imprisonment, it was delivered exclusively to replace the death penalty so a sentence of not more than 15 years’ imprisonment can be delivered for murder, said Nobilo.

He recalled that under the German court’s verdict “despite the declarative life imprisonment, Perković should be released on 20 January 2028,” and that he did not expect a Croatian court to be any harsher.

Attorneys for intelligence officials Perković and Mustač, who have been warning from the start that their clients’ rights have been violated, expect a possible new trial in Germany, if the European Court of Human Rights rules that their right to a fair trial was breached.

Mustač’s attorney Lidija Horvat said the recently filed lawsuit was received by the European Court of Human Rights and that she expected it to pass the first triage. She added that it would be known in a few months’ time if the lawsuit would be rejected, and that if it was accepted, a first-instance ruling would be known in two years at the earliest.

The defence believes that the main argument that intelligence officers Perković and Mustač did not have a fair trial lies in the fact that the same judges who tried them had first tried Krunoslav Prates, who was sentenced to life in prison for the same crime, the same sentence delivered in the case against Perković and Mustač.

They also underline that presiding judge Manfred Dauster did not give a statement about his involvement in the previous case even though he was obliged to do so under German law, and that he was personally biased, showing benevolence towards witnesses for the prosecution and having an aggressive attitude to the witnesses for the defence.

For more on relations between Croatia and Germany, click here.


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