JUNE 16 2013 17:56h

Germany to ask Croatia to arrest ex-Yugoslav agent on 1 July




 On 1 July, when it enters the European Union, Croatia can expect a warrant from Germany for the arrest of a former Yugoslav intelligence officer, Josip Perkovic, who is believed to have masterminded the murder of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Djurekovic near Munich in June 1983, the German Focus weekly reported on Sunday.

The German federal prosecutorial authorities will forward to Zagreb, on the first day of Croatia's EU membership, the warrant for the arrest of Perkovic, 68, and for his extradition to Germany.

Perkovic, who used to the at the helm of Croatia's branch of the Yugoslav State Security Service (SDS), is charged with having sent murderers to kill dissident Djurekovic.

In 2008, Krunoslav Prates, a Croatian citizen was convicted by the Munich High State Court to life imprisonment for his role in the execution of Djurekovic, who was found dead in a garage in the Bavarian town of Wolfratshausen. Focus recalled that five shots were fired at the victim and that also he was hit by an axe to his head.

According to the weekly, arrest warrants for five more people have also been issued in Germany, as they are believed to have been Perkovic's aides.

Prates was arrested in July 2005 on suspicion that he had helped prepare the Djurekovic murder in 1983. The German state prosecution suspects Djurekovic was killed by members of the then Yugoslav State Security Service (SDS). Djurekovic left the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) for political reasons after the Yugoslav authorities labelled him a dangerous Croatian nationalist.

During the trial, Prates admitted to having cooperated with the Yugoslav intelligence, notably the chief of the Croatian SDS branch Perkovic, but denied any involvement in Djurekovic's death.

Perkovic allegedly gave keys to the garage to as yet unidentified persons, who waited for Djurekovic in the garage outside Munich on 28 June 1983 and shot him dead.

During the announcement of the verdict in July 2008, the Munich court criticised Croatia for showing no interest in the case and for failing to see to it that Perkovic also appeared before the court for this case.

The judgement in the Prates case also reads that from 1970 to 1989, 22 Croats, who fled to Germany, were killed by the Yugoslav secret services.

In late 2010, the Der Spiegel magazine reported that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere received a request to revoke the Federal Cross of Merit that had been awarded to Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito by German President Gustav Heinemann in 1974.

The request for the posthumous revocation of the highest German order, which is awarded only to heads of state, has been filed by an unnamed citizen, "a victim of a failed assassination attempt by Yugoslav secret services."

Der Spiegel mentioned the request in an article dealing with investigations by German federal prosecutors and the Ministry of the Interior into the killings of Croats in exile by Yugoslav secret services during the 1970-1989 period. It said that 14 people were currently under investigation and that international warrants had been issued for the arrest of six persons, two of whom had served as intelligence officers.

The weekly then gave details of the sentence handed down by the Munich High District Court in July 2008 against Prates for his role in the 1983 murder of Djurekovic.

The sentence said that Tito "directed political murders abroad" until his death in 1980, and that "Yugoslav political officials ordered murders that were carried out in the Federal Republic of Germany."

The Munich court named Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac, also a former Yugoslav secret service agent, as being involved in the murder of Stjepan Djurekovic. The German federal prosecution at the time announced more investigations in connection with the murders of 22 Croatian activists in exile in Germany.

Mustac, 71, has claimed that he had not been acquainted with orders for killings Croat emigrants, however, he has said that the Yugoslav authorities "had the right to energetically deal with "extremist Croats in exile".