Croatia court backs ex-top spy's extradition to Germany

8th January 2014, Comments 0 comments

A Croatian court on Wednesday backed the extradition of the country's former top spy to Germany, in a step towards calming a row between the European Union and its newest member.

The Zagreb court approved Germany's request for the extradition of Josip Perkovic under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which regulates extradition between EU member states, a tribunal's spokeswoman Ivana Calic said.

Perkovic is sought by Germany for alleged involvement in a 1983 murder of a Croatian political immigrant.

The ruling is not final and Perkovic's lawyer said he would file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Perkovic, a former Yugoslav secret service agent and Croatia's ex-head of intelligence, was arrested on January 1 after the country lifted a limitation it had imposed on extraditions within the EU.

He was released two days later pending a final decision on his extradition.

In the same case, Germany seeks another former secret service agent and a court is to rule on his extradition on Thursday.

Perkovic, who denied any links with the murder of Stjepan Djurekovic, opposes his extradition to Germany claiming he would not have a fair trial there, his lawyer Anto Nobilo said.

The issue sparked a dispute between the EU and Croatia right after it joined the bloc last July.

Just days before becoming a member, Croatia changed its domestic law implementing the EAW.

The change in the law made it impossible to extradite persons wanted for crimes allegedly committed before August 2002, the date the EAW was introduced.

The move left the Balkan country sharply at odds with its 27 partners, notably Germany, which was seeking Perkovic's arrest.

Following the dispute with Brussels, Zagreb eventually amended the law in October.

Local media have speculated that Zagreb was reluctant to extradite Perkovic as he may hold compromising information on influential people in Croatia.

But the government denied such reports, saying its aim was to protect veterans of the 1990s independence war from being investigated by the EU.

Since January 1, Croatia has arrested 10 people wanted within the EU.

© 2014 AFP

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