On Wednesday the Croatian President Zoran, for the first time since the issue arose, commented on an initiative by a group of Croatian Generals, calling on him to pardon two former Yugoslav secret service agents serving life in prison for the assassination of a Croatian political dissident.
The initiative put forth by a group of Croatian Generals, including Ante Gotovina, calls on President Zoran Milanović to pardon former Yugoslav secret service agents Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač. In 2016 Perković and Mustač were sentenced to live in prison for their role in the assassination of Croatian dissident Stjepan Đureković in Germany in 1983. The president said that he was surprised by the letter from the generals, but added that he has not yet made any decision about the call for clemency. He also rejected assessments from the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, that the letter is a political initiative concocted by the Office of the President: “I haven't read it yet. It came as a surprise to me, because it complicates my life. However, given that the weight of their words and the fact that they are doing this completely unprovoked, and to my great shock - because I visited General Gotovina in his house two weeks ago and he didn't mention this, and that these aren't petty people like Prime Minister Plenković, I want to talk with them.”
Meanwhile, in parliament today, some members of the opposition accused Prime Minister Plenković of floating the clemency issue so as to avoid dealing with the real problems Croatia is facing. Plenković responded by reiterating his view that the entire issue is the brainchild of the Office of the President, which evoked a strong response from President Milanović: “There are no other words to describe someone who accuses Croatian Generals of lobbying through me for agents of Yugoslavia's Secret Police or UDBA, than to call him a disciple of the UDBA ideology. This is a serious precedent and one that is dangerous for Croatia, to have this kind of gang lead Croatia.”
Perković and Mustač's lawyer, Anto Nobilo, yesterday confirmed that he would send a formal request for clemency to the president's office. The Plenković government however, insists that this is clearly a political initiative created between Nobilo and President Milanović. Deputy Prime Minister and Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved said that granting the pardon would set a precedent: “Objectively speaking, the question that jumps to mind is; What are the circumstances that brought this issue to light in 2022? An issue that is attempting to rehabilitate these two and the entire Yugoslav regime. These are very dangerous things that are continually trying to divide Croatian society.”
A second letter also arrived last night, but from a second group of generals, Ivan Tolj, Ivan Kapular, Žarko Tole, Ivica Primorac and reserve general Andrija Hebrang, who oppose the clemency request.
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