Historians: Conviction will inspire historical research and distancing from communist system

Croatian historians Josip Jurcevic and Hrvoje Klasic on Wednesday commented on a conviction of former Yugoslav intelligence agents Josip Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac by the High Regional Court in Munich, underscoring that this opened the door to researching archival material which until now had been inaccessible to researchers.

"The conviction was expected based on the documents and witnesses in the trial," Jurcevic told Hina, recalling that defence counsel Anto Nobilo had yesterday predicted a guilty verdict.

Jurcevic assessed that even to this day UDBA (Yugoslav secret agency) was still deeply embedded in all institutions and networks which were established in the 1990s by Perkovic and Mustac, adding that the entire apparatus, particularly security services, were in the hands of those who in the 1990s were the most ardent persecutors of supporters of Croatian democratic ideas.

According to Jurcevic, the conviction is a precedent on a global scale even though a legal-political scandal occurred in 2013 immediately upon Croatia's accession to the European Union when the entire state leadership, together with the then president Ivo Josipovic, the entire government headed by Zoran Milanovic and the State Prosecution (DORH) headed then by Mladen Bajic, refused to extradite Perkovic and Mustac to Germany.

Speaking in an interview with the N1 television channel,  Klasic said that this is just another in a series of convictions that has aroused different reactions.

"The conviction at a foreign court that no-one in Croatia recognises is the acquittal of Vojislav Seselj. We also have the revised conviction of Alojzije Stepinac (Zagreb Cardinal in WWII) which led to a series of reactions due to the mere legal implications and not Stepinac's historical role. We also have the conviction against Perkovic and Mustac. Just how beneficial it is to face up to the past...Croatian society is showing some progress even though I believe that it should be better and in a different way. The conviction is just one aspect that helps in facing it. It is necessary to call on historians to start analysing the past, what happened but not unilaterally, nothing is black and white. We must not use history as a self-service which we enter only when we need to and to get just what we want," Klasic said.

Former Yugoslav intelligence agents Josip Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac were convicted by a Munich court on Wednesday for complicity in the murder of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Djurekovic in 1983 and were sentenced to life.

Last update: Wed, 03/08/2016 - 20:45

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