After months of waiting, the murder trial against two former intelligence officers from Croatia has started on Friday before the higher court in the city of Munich.
Zvonko Mustac and Josip Perkovic, former members of Yugoslav secret service (UDBA), are accused of ordering and organizing the killing of a Croatian political dissident Stjepan Djurekovic in Munich in 1983.
Mustac was one of the top ranking federal officials of UDBA from 1982 to 1985, while Perkovic was his Croatian state-level subordinate in socialist Yugoslavia.
Both men pleaded not guilty for involvement in murder in front of a five-member jury headed by Judge Manfred Dauster. Dauster is an experienced judge who served as an anti-corruption judge in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Perkovic has team of lawyers led by Croatian lawyer Ante Nobilo who specializes in international humanitarian law and who is known for having defended Bosnian Croat general Tihomir Blaskic before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
German lawyers Peter Wagner, Richard Beyer and Francziska Zurr make up the rest of Perkovic's defence team.
Mustac is being represented by a German lawyer, Daniela Dopf, and by Lidija Horvat of Croatia.
German State Proseuctor Wolf-Dieter Dietrich read the indictment, which states that Mustac ordered Perkovic to organize the killing of Djurekovic. In the indictment, Perkovic is accused of organizing the murder in a garage in Wolfratshausen near Munich where Djurekovic lived.
The indictment implies that the plan to murder was carried out by "currently unidentified people in the communist leadership," while the motive for the murder was Djurekovic's knowledge about illegal activities in the Croatian state energy company INA.
The third member of the group convicted for his role in Djurekovic's killing was Krunoslav Prates, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 in Germany.
Both of the accused refrained from making any comment.
The trial will continue on Monday; witness cross-examination will start on Nov. 4. The court will hold a total of 50 hearings with an anticipated end date of April 2015.
The initial indictment against Perkovic was filed in June and in September a joint trial was decided upon.
Perkovic was extradited to Germany in January and Mustac in April, after a long political stand-off between Croatian authorities who refused to cooperate with German authorities to speed up the extradition process.
In late June 2013, a few days before Croatia entered the European Union (EU), German authorities issued an arrest warrant for Perkovic. According to an European arrest warrant, Croatia should have automatically extradited Perkovic upon entering the EU.
However, Croatia quickly passed an extradition law, specifying that Croatian citizens could only be extradited for "criminal acts committed in other countries after August 7, 2002," the date when the European arrest warrant came into effect.
The EU finally broke the Croatian stance after it threatened to withdraw about 80 million euros (102 million U.S. dollars) for Schengen zone harmonization over the next two years, and the introduction of post-accession monitoring. As a result, Croatia changed the law -- facilitating Perkovic's extradition -- as from Jan. 1, 2014. (1 euro = about 1.28 U.S. dollars)