ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia on Friday extradited its former spy chief to Germany, where he is accused of masterminding the murder of a Yugoslav dissident in 1983.
Croatian state TV said Josip Perkovic was handed over to German authorities at the Zagreb airport and flown to Munich on a commercial flight. German prosecutors confirmed the handover. The dissident, Stjepan Djurekovic, was killed on July 28, 1983, in Wolfratshausen, a town near Munich. The killing was allegedly carried out by the former Yugoslav secret service, which was notorious for eliminating opponents of the communist regime.
Perkovic, 68, was a ranking Yugoslav secret service official in the 1980s. When Croatia split from Yugoslavia during the war in the 1990s, he helped create Croatia's spy agency and organized the smuggling of arms for its forces fighting the federal army.
Perkovic has repeatedly denied having anything to do with the murder of Djurekovic, who was the president of Yugoslavia's state INA oil company before fleeing the country in 1982 and becoming active in Croatian nationalist emigre circles in Germany.
In 2005, Germany put out an international arrest warrant for Perkovic, implicating him in the slaying. Croatia, which joined the EU in July, initially refused to extradite Perkovic, citing local laws banning the handover. Under EU and German pressure, Croatia amended its laws in line with the bloc's standards.
Two Croatian high courts rejected Perkovic's appeals against the extradition. He was picked up by police at his Zagreb home on Friday and driven to the airport. Perkovic will be brought before a German judge by the end of Saturday, German federal prosecutors said in a statement. The judge will decide at a closed-doors hearing whether he should be kept in custody pending a formal indictment.
Perkovic faces charges of being an accessory to murder, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.