What does refusal to testify in Perkovic-Mustac trial mean?

The prosecution and the defence in a Munich trial of Yugoslav-era secret agents Josip Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac for the 1983 murder of Croatian dissident Stjepan Djurekovic on Monday gave different opinions of a statement from one of the potential main witnesses and one of the heads of the Yugoslav State Security Service (SDS) in the early 1980s, Stanko Colak, and from SDS employee Dmitar Sijan.

Something really important happened at the trial today, as two former members of the Yugoslav secret service UDBA openly said they feared criminal prosecution if they testified and therefore refused to testify, whereby Colak and Sijan are saying that the indictment is founded and that they are implicated, attorney Sinisa Pavlovic told Hina. He represents one of the plaintiffs, Gisela Djurekovic, Stjepan Djurekovic's wife.

Perkovic's attorney Anto Nobilo, however, told Hina that the refusal of Colak and Sijan to testify directly confirmed the defence argument that the Djurekovic assassination had been masterminded by the federal and not a republican SDS branch, as seen in Colak's fear that he might be prosecuted for involvement in the assassination, for which other evidence had surfaced in the trial.

As for Sijan's refusal to testify, his fear of prosecution could be for any other crime but not Djurekovic's assassination because at that time he held other positions, Nobilo said.

Asked by Hina to assess the course of the trial so far, German prosecutor Lionhardt Weiss said the court's recent refusal to grant the defence request that the accused be released from custody was telling.

This shows how the Munich court evaluates the degree of suspicion as it continues to maintain that there is reasonable suspicion that the accused committed the crime, he said.

The main hearing resumes on Tuesday with the testimony of Croatian presidential advisor Vladimir Seks. He was mentioned during the trial by former SDS employee Ivan Lasic, who described Seks as an "UDBA employee," which Seks has repeatedly dismissed as an unutruth.

Last update: Mon, 18/01/2016 - 17:11
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