Ex-official at center of Croatia-EU dispute arrested

ZAGREB -- Former top Yugoslav and then Croatian security services official Josip Perković was arrested on Wednesday morning, his lawyer has confirmed.

(sxc.hu, stock)
(sxc.hu, stock)

Perković was at the center of a dispute between the EU and its newest member-state, Croatia.

He was arrested as an amended law came into force on January 1, according to which Croatia has begun applying the European arrest warrant to crimes committed prior to 2002.

Germany has charged Perković with participating in the murder of Croatian political emigre Stjepan Đureković, in 1983 in Bavaria.

After the secession of Croatia from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Perković held high intelligence positions in the regime of Franjo Tuđman, while his son serves as national security adviser to the current president, Ivo Josipović.

Perković could now tell the district prosecutor in Zagreb that he agrees to be extradited to Germany. In case he refuses, the prosecutor will forward the extradition request to a court, which will have eight days to decide.

Both Perković and the state prosecutor will be able to appeal against the court's decision to the Supreme Court.

"Lex Perković"

Croatia's Index website is noting in its report that the Croatian parliament changed a law only three days before the country's EU accession, exempting crimes committed prior to 2002 from the European arrest warrant.

This was explained at the time with a desire to prevent Croatian courts from being swamped with arrest warrants, and "to protect Croatian defenders from facing processes in other states."

However, the move was interpreted as a desire to protect Perković from extradition, and the media dubbed the legislation "Lex Perković."

The European Commission reacted strongly to this development, saying that Croatia was violating its obligations undertaken during accession talks.

The Commission at one point threatened to introduce sanctions, but the story was resolved in a compromise, with yet another amendment to the law now determining that the European arrest warrant is valid without limitations, starting on January 1.