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Croatia to cooperate with EU on extradition law

The Croatian government on Wednesday announced its full cooperation with European legislation regarding extradition laws. Just two days [JURIST report] after European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding [official websites] said that Croatia [JURIST news archive] may face legal action for failure to comply with the law, both Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and Justice Minister Orsat Milijenic gave assurances [Reuters report] that the Croatian government would take appropriate measures to ensure the country's laws on judicial cooperation adhered to those of the EU. Days before entering the EU on July 1, Croatian lawmakers decided to exempt people who committed serious crimes before August 2002 from being extradited to another EU country. Known as the "Perkovic Law," named for alleged former spy [WSJ report] Josip Perkovic who was implicated in the 1983 assassination of a Croatian dissident in Germany. The Croatian government has claimed that the act was an attempt to protect Croatian War for Independence veterans from extradition.

Croatia has previously been criticized by groups such as Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] for the slow pace of war crimes investigations. AI noted [report, PDF] that Croatian courts have mostly focused on crimes allegedly committed by ethnic Serbs even though Croats have also been accused of ethnic-based war crimes. Amidst pressure to the tackle the issue of corruption, the push to join the EU was a primary focus [JURIST op-eds] of the nation's rulers for years. In January of this year the Croatian people voted in favor of joining the EU, a month after the government signed a treaty [JURIST reports] to finalize its EU accession. The EU gave final approval [JURIST report] for Croatian membership in 2011 after six years of negotiations. The EU had previously suspended accession talks [JURIST report] in 2005 when it felt Croatia was not cooperating fully with International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia investigations into war crimes against its former military officers.

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