Wednesday, July 12, 2006

UN tribunal again rejects Boskovski's appeal for release

Lawyers for Ljube Boskovski say the former Macedonian interior minister's request for provisional release has again been rejected for the same reasons as before -- insufficient guarantees that the indictee would be available to the court when his trial opens, and that he might pressure witnesses.

"The basic reason for the rejection was the partial guarantee by the Croatian government that cannot be called a guarantee," attorney Dragan Godzo said. Zagreb had submitted a guarantee supporting Boskovski's release, provided he stays within Macedonian territory.

The ex-minister, who holds dual Croatian and Macedonian citizenship, has been detained in Scheveningen since March 2005, together with security official Johan Tarculovski. They are the only Macedonian war crimes indictees.

Under a joint indictment, each faces three counts of violations of the laws or customs of war in connection with an August 2001 raid on the village of Ljuboten, during the interethnic conflict in Macedonia.

The specific violations include killings, beatings and arson allegedly committed by a police unit under Tarculovski's command. As interior minister, Boskovski had command authority over the police and knowledge of the incidents at Ljuboten, but failed to prevent the criminal acts, properly investigate them, or punish those involved, the prosecution charges.

While interior minister, Boskovski cultivated a hardline image, personally commanding a paramilitary unit as tensions rose between the authorities and ethnic Albanian militants.

He has also been charged in Macedonia in connection with the killings of six Pakistanis and one Indian by Macedonian police at Rastanski Lozja outside Skopje on 2 March 2002. Boskovski had claimed his forces were thwarting Islamic terrorists, but prosecutors say that the men were migrants and that Boskovski staged the killings. The Hague court has not charged him in that case.

Boskovski fled to Croatia in 2004, and was subsequently arrested in Pula. He was extradited to The Hague on 24 March 2005, preceded eight days earlier by Tarculovski.

His flight was cited by the court last year as one of the reasons for denying provisional release. According to the tribunal, the Macedonian government had been unable to ensure he stayed in the country.

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