A Madrid investigating judge has approved the extradition of former Yugoslav secret agent Vinko Sindicic to Croatia, but Sindicic's lawyer has appealed against the ruling and a final decision will be made by a senior body of the Madrid court in charge of the case in about ten days.
Sindicic was arrested on November 9 in Burgos, a town in the north of Spain, on an Interpol arrest warrant issued by the Rijeka Municipal Prosecutor's Office.
Croatian prosecutors believe that 72-year-old Sindicic gave a false testimony and falsely reported a crime at the Munich trial of former senior Yugoslav intelligence officials Josip Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac, who are charged with the 1983 murder of Yugoslav dissident Stjepan Djurekovic, a Croat.
Perkovic's lawyer Anto Nobilo claims that Sindicic's perjury has put his client, charged with masterminding the Djurekovic assassination, in jeopardy.
In 2008, a German court sentenced Krunoslav Prates to life imprisonment for aiding and abetting in the Djurekovic murder.
The warrant for Sindicic's arrest was issued on 6 February 2014, and he was arrested 20 months later.
Citing protection of personal data, the Croatian Police Directorate refused to say if Sindicic had permanent residence in the northern Croatian Adriatic town of Rijeka. He could have arrived in Spain from Italy without a border check because both countries are in the Schengen area of passport-free travel.
Sindcic's Spanish lawyer claims that the Croatian judiciary has no jurisdiction in Sindicic's arrest in the context of the Munich trial and that it could be done only by the German judiciary.
Germany has not requested Spain to extradite Sindicic, only Croatia has done it, a source at the Madrid court told Hina
Judge Ismael Moreno accepted the position of state attorney Carmen Monfort that there were no obstacles to the extradition of the former secret agent.
A senior court body will discuss the case on Thursday and make a final ruling in about ten days. The body will decide only on whether Sindicic's extradition is in line with the European Arrest Warrant and not on his testimony in the Munich trial or on his past as a secret agent who is being mentioned in the context of a number of killings of Croatian political emigrants.
Sindicic is waiting for a decision on his extradition in a prison some 40 kilometres from Madrid.
He was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder of Croatian dissident Nikola Stedul in Scotland in 1988, and he served there two-thirds of his sentence. He was also tried in Zagreb for the murder of Croatian political emigrant Bruno Busic in Paris in 1978, but was acquitted in 2000. His name was also mentioned by the media in the context of the murder of a Croatian family in Italy and some other emigrants in Germany and Switzerland.