Thursday, April 26, 2007

First appearance of the trial against Boskoski and Tarculovski ended

The first appearance of the trial against Ljube Boskoski and Johan Tarculovski ended Monday at the Hague Tribunal. As it was agreed at the pre-trial conference on April 12, the Prosecution presented the opening statements and the trial is adjourned and will resume on Monday 7 May 2007 aimed at carrying out all necessary preparations for conducting efficient trial.

The Prosecution Monday presented the indictment against Boskoski and Tarculovski for violation of laws or customs of war in relation to Ljuboten case. Boskoski is charged with "commanding responsibility" i.e. as Minister of Interior approved Tarculovski to form and led police unit which conducted the action in Ljuboten in August 2001 where seven citizens of Albanian nationality were killed.

The Prosecution before the Trial Chamber reconstructed the events in Ljuboten, which happened from 10th to 12th of August 2001. According to the prosecutors, the goal of the police action was to conduct illegal attack on civilians and civilian houses in the village of Ljuboten, which was not justified by military necessity.

The Prosecution considered that Ljube Boskoski is responsible for the criminal acts of his subordinates if he knew or had reason to know that his subordinates were about to commit such acts or had done so, and the superior failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators. Ljube Boskoski in his capacity as Minister of Interior exercised de jure and de facto command and control over the police forces that participated in the crimes alleged in this indictment.

Johan Tarculovski is also individually criminally responsible for ordering, planning and instigating the crimes charged in the indictment by virtue of his participation in the attack on Ljuboten. He directly intended that these crimes be committed or at least he had the awareness of the substantial likelihood that the crimes would be committed in the execution of his orders, plans and instigation.

Representative of the Prosecution at the opening statement pointed out that in 2001 a conflict erupted between the government of Macedonia, Army of the Republic of Macedonia and police on one side and NLA on the other. NLA assumed control over 20% of the territory of Macedonia. The conflict ended on August 13 when Framework Agreement was signed which preceded the disarmament and disbanding of NLA and acceptance of constitutional amendments for promotion of the rights of the Albanian minority. Macedonian Army consisted of 10.000 soldiers and 20.000 reservists, 100 tanks, guns, armour vehicles, helicopters, planes which were deployed in crisis regions. Interior Ministry consisted of 9.750 members and acted together with the army. Also police reservists around of 10.100 members were mobilised. Police forces were under effective control of Ljube Boskoski as Minister of Internal Affairs, representative of the Prosecution explained.

NLA, which opposed the Macedonian security forces according to the Prosecution, had the basis in Kosovo, Macedonia and Western Europe. - NLA consisted of 6.000 armed members and unarmed reservists. It was composed of four components, supreme command, general staff, armed members, and external organisation for political activities and collection of resources. The most famous representatives were Ali Ahmeti, Gzim Ostreni, Fazli Veliu. NLA acted as armed force with command structures. It had infantry weapons, antitank mines, mortars and other weapons. It was not conventional army but it had all elements of armed force. It issued communiqu├ęs and had contacts with political representatives of the Albanians, who participated at the developments of the Framework Agreement, the representative of the Prosecution underlined.

The NLA attacked Macedonian police stations and police patrols, planted mines, and engaged units of the Macedonian army. As the conflict spread out from the areas bordering on Kosovo towards Tetovo and Skopje, the NLA established control over a number of villages. In May another front in Kumanovo opened. NLA expanded the conflict to only 10 kilometres from Skopje and controlled the village of Aracinovo. The fight was waged in Tetovo as well.

Sixty-nine members of the Macedonian security forces were killed, 16 civilians and 211 Macedonian Army members were injured. Large material damage was caused, the losses for economy were estimated at a half a billion Euro, 86.000 people were displaced, 80.000 left Macedonia, over 40 religious facilities were damaged, the representative of the Hague Prosecution said.

Also photographs of the armed clashes during the conflict were presented before the Trial Chamber.

Ljube Boskovski was extradited from Zagreb on March 24 2005. Boskovski until his departure to Hague, was detained for several months in pretrial confinement in Pula, Croatia. The Croatian police arrested him upon the request of the Macedonian authorities since he was charged considering the Rastanski Lozja case. The primary Court Skopje 2 and the Appellate Court have acquitted him from the charges. The Macedonian Justice Ministry announced to withdraw the case from Croatia.

Tarculovski was extradited on March 16 2005.

Both had pleaded not guilty on all charges at the first hearing before the Judicial Council of the Hague Tribunal.

Hague judges rejected twice Boskovski and Traculovski lawyers' request to defend themselves while on bail, even though the Macedonian Government provided guarantees for their availability to the Tribunal at any time.

Hague investigators in 2002 began an inquiry on five cases related to the 2001 conflict. Only one formal procedure regarding the Ljuboten case was brought before the Hague Tribunal.

The remaining four cases which were an interest of investigation - closing of the Lipkovo dam, abusing construction workers, the mass grave in Neprosteno and NLA high commanders - are to be returned to Macedonian authorities.

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