Hiding of informers

Annual Conference and Meeting of the European Lawyers Association Berlin
4. June 2016.
A Presentation: “Benefit Cost Analysis of Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Infrastructures” – Washington D.C.
16. March 2017.

Hiding of informers


Vijenac 589

Along to the Munich verdict to Perković and Mustač

Hiding of informers

Kristina Gogić

Human rights have been violated for years to the persons who have been imprisoned and persecuted by Administration of national security (UDBA) in ex Yougoslavia and abroad, but they still do not have the right to know, even today, by whom they were persecuted and imprisoned (their names), who betrayed them collaborating with the secret services. Therefore, the most important part in the process of lustration is – the opening of archives.

Is it not a shame that Germany started the process of lustration in Croatia? The old Latin proverb says, “Repetition is the mother of knowledge”, so it is necessary to repeat some extremely important facts. …

We finally met the verdict to Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač (non-final, for now) at the beginning of August, by which they were sentenced to life imprisonment for the offense of planning and preparation, i.e. issuance of order for planning and preparation of murder of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Đureković in Bavaria, Germany in 1983. Unfortunately, the verdict was not brought by the court in Croatia, but the trial was held in Germany according to territorial jurisdiction because the crime was committed in Germany. We witnessed the shameful law which Milanović’s Government passed only few days before the Croatian EU accession, by which the extradition of these two men to Germany was tried to be prevented, on the basis of a European arrest warrant. According to the Law on Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters with EU member states (so-called Lex Perković), which was adopted in that time, the application of the European arrest warrant for crimes committed before August 7, 2002 was prevented. This law was contrary to EU legislation and according to it we had to comply with all laws before joining the EU. Croatia was almost imposed sanctions because of that Law, and the EU has given up on that when the adopted law was changed, but the changes entered into force on 1st January 2014. On the same day, Perković and Mustač were imprisoned. Is it necessary to mention the mistakes of the Croatian judiciary after their arrest, where the County Court of Zagreb decided to comply with the German request for Perković’s extradition, but the County Court of Velika Gorica decided to reject the request for Mustač’s extradition, finding that in that case, the statute of limitations had occurred ?! At the end they were extradited to Germany; Perković in January, Mustač in April 2014.

Is it not a shame that Germany started the process of lustration in Croatia? The old Latin proverb says, “Repetition is the mother of knowledge”, so it is necessary to repeat some extremely important facts. This case says a lot about the current situation in Croatia which is not brilliant. Mentality in Croatia tends to bypass legislation without sanctions, but fortunately now Croatia is a member of the European Union, so it is no more possible. It is actually a communist mentality, repressive, and we know by ourselves that mentality cannot be changed overnight, changes might happen even in the third or fourth generation. But it is important that it occurs and therefore we should always talk about the concept of lustration and illuminate the importance of the adoption of this law: first of all, for the future and new generations; it should be better to them than it was to us.

Hidden archives of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)

If the Lustration Law had been adopted on time, the procedure in question would already be led in Croatia for a long time ago. The law should have been adopted immediately after the end of the Homeland War and everything would be much clearer, we could move forward as a country, there would be no more insinuations usually during election campaigns, about the fact whether someone was working for UDBA or not, but it would be known only after completion of court proceedings. Thus we cannot say for someone who is not legally convicted, that he was working for UDBA, as even now we cannot say that Perković and Mustač planned and prepared the murder of Stjepan Đureković, because the judgement is not final.

The delay is enormous and many people wonder whether it is even possible to implement lustration today. I think it’s not too late because there are still archives that are not available to the public; So not all has been destroyed or contaminated, as indicated by fact that the SDP holds closed archives that are not accessible to the public, but it is possible to get a document from the archives only with a specific request of individuals stating the purpose why the requested document is necessary and if approved by the responsible person of the same party (I received this information personally from Mr. Miroslav Tuđman who sent the parliamentary question about that to the SDP while the HDZ (The Croatian Democratic Union) was in opposition; but he has never received an answer).

Cleaning of documents

So we can only guess or say: it is said…, I’ve heard … and so on, because we cannot say that a person has committed a criminal offense until the court decision on that matter becomes final; everyone knows the presumption of innocence. Therefore, we can only assume, not assert that some members and collaborators of the former secret services are dispersed in political parties in Croatia, not only in those of left political orientation, but also in all the other political parties, as well as in the secret services, which is extremely dangerous. I have wondered quite a few times: do certain agents of the Croatian secret services think they are the only ones in the world? Well, each country has its own secret service which also checks people; for example, when applying for a visa for a certain country, their secret service certainly checks whether we meet their criteria for entry into the country. And secret service should be involved in detecting perpetrators of criminal acts rather than in their hiding.

For example, the German newspaper Fokus, referring to the confidential sources in the Bavarian District Office of Crime Prevention, published in 2011 the information that Croatian Security Intelligence Agency (SOA), before the Croatian accession to the European Union, was deliberately destroying documents signed by Josip Perković, which were evidence of his responsibilities in certain crimes. But judgment to Krunoslav Prates, which was also made in Germany and became final in 2009, confirms that the sentenced Prates handed over the keys of the garage to Josip Perković which Đureković used as a printing house and in which the immigrant press was printed, but Perković handed over these keys to unknown persons who committed murder. When the judgment became final in 2009, an international arrest warrant was issued for Perković and Mustač, as well as for Ivan Lasić and Boris Brnelić. If in Croatia the evidence was removed by the SOA /The Security and Intelligence Agency/, it was not possible to ignore the final court decision which sentenced Prates.

Croatia and Slovenia are the only post-communist EU member states which have not implemented lustration. This indicates a lack of political will in Croatia for the necessary changes, considerable indifference for the extremely important question: What’s behind it? What is lustration actually? Even I wasn’t only once in a dilemma whether to implement lustration considering that has been passed more than 25 years from decay of Yugoslavia, and I was wondering who are we going to lustrate now?! Most people who have worked and collaborated with UDBA have retired now or are about to retire or have died, but when we bring that law for five years or whenever, there will be nobody to be judged. Munich verdict, although legally valid, is extremely important and is a sign that Croatia must begin the process of lustration because there are still individuals who are not punished for criminal offenses committed in the past. In Germany in the process of lustration, not a lot of people were sentenced to prison, but the vast majority had to leave public duties after they were found to be guilty or after having proven that they had worked or collaborated with the STASI. So, this is the main purpose of lustration proceeding.

The most important part in the process of lustration is opening of the archives. In a free and democratic country there should not be closed archives, but in Croatia exist the archives that are not available to the public. Why? Who protects the former employees and associates of UDBA (The State Security Service of Ex-YU)? What will we find when one day these archives will be open to the public? How many people will have to leave the public duties which they exercise in the Republic of Croatia, and who will be banned from public appearances? Shall we ever get the answers to these questions?

In Croatia, there is great ignorance about meaning of lustration. Possibilities to implement lustration from the point of view of Human Rights, European and International Law are big. As much we explore the structure, sources, laws of post-communist countries that have implemented lustration, we’re becoming more secure that the law should be implemented, and that an institution has to be established, an institution in which will be stored the archives available to the public. I assume that the ignorance of what the lustration means, is not a coincidence in Croatia, and it is a result of targeted work of former employees and associates of UDBA. Who would among them really like that people find out who they are? Even they themselves are aware of the fact which consequences might appear for them after their disclosure.

It is also necessary to emphasize that this is a violation of human rights of people who do not have the right to see their secret file in which it is described who betrayed and incriminated them, and that informers actually are passing without sanctions and, what is worst, they very likely perform public duties and public functions in Croatia. But in Croatia there is an atmosphere that by the adoption of that law, human rights to people who would be involved would be violated, which is completely wrong perception.

Anyway, human rights have been violated for many years to those who were imprisoned and persecuted by UDBA in Yugoslavia and abroad, and they still do not have the right to know who it was, their first and last names, who persecuted and imprisoned them, who betrayed them and cooperated with the secret services. The question is: whose human rights in this case are violated? I think it is quite clear now; it is illuminated, it is necessary to be put it into a legal framework that obliges everybody so that we all know what will happen if we do not respect the law or statutory sanctions.

P.S. The verdict to Perković and Mustać became final in May 2018.