Croatia ex-spy Josip Perkovic extradited to Germany

Josip Perkovic escorted to Zagreb airport (24 Jan) Mr Perkovic (centre) has always denied any role in the murder

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Croatia's former spy chief, Josip Perkovic, has been extradited to Germany on suspicion of masterminding the murder of a Yugoslav dissident.

He was handed over to the German authorities at Zagreb airport and flown to Munich, reported Croatian state TV.

Stjepan Djurekovic was murdered in 1983 near Munich, at a time when Mr Perkovic was in the Yugoslav secret service.

Croatia was reluctant to hand him over, causing a row which marred its accession to the EU in July 2013.

Under pressure from the EU and Germany, it amended its laws, removing a time limit on extraditions under European Arrest Warrants (EAWs).

Murder in Bavaria

Mr Djurekovic defected from communist Yugoslavia in 1982 after falling out with the government.

He went to Germany, where he became active in Croatian nationalist circles. He was murdered in the Bavarian town of Wolfratshausen.

Mr Perkovic, 68, was then an intelligence officer with the Yugoslav secret service in Germany. He has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder.

After Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991, Mr Perkovic headed Croatian military intelligence.

In 2005, Germany issued an international warrant for his arrest.

He was detained on 1 January as the amended Croatian law came into effect.

Last Friday, a Croatian court rejected his final appeal against extradition.

"We have to respect the independent judiciary, and that's it," said President Ivo Josipovic, whose security adviser is Mr Perkovic's son Sasa.

Croatia became the EU's 28th member state on 1 July, after years of negotiations and wide-ranging adoption of the EU acquis - the bloc's huge rulebook.

Justice was one of the areas where the Commission was most critical of Croatia - it demanded sweeping changes to fight corruption and legal abuses before admitting Croatia as a member.

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