Friday, February 22, 2008

Hague Cases Returned to Macedonia

Four cases brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, were returned to the Macedonian judicial system last week, the ICTY Prosecutor’s Office has told Balkan Insight.

The cases involve alleged crimes committed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas during the 2001 armed conflict in Macedonia.

“The cases were transferred to the Macedonian authorities last week and that concludes our jurisdiction,” Prosecution spokesperson Olga Kavran said.

In late January Macedonia’s public prosecutor, Ljupco Svrgovski, told reporters he would re-examine the cases when they are returned to Macedonia’s jurisdiction.

When the Hague Prosecutor’s Office decided in February not to proceed with the four cases, ICTY President Fausto Pocar and Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz announced that they would be referred back to Macedonia.

In 2002 the ICTY took over jurisdiction of five cases from Macedonia.

However, the prosecution brought charges only in the case against former Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski and one of his senior police officers, who are now being tried for allegedly ordering a brutal police attack on an Albanian-populated village.

Local politicians and experts in the past few years have expressed fears that the return of the four cases could revive inter-ethnic disputes from the past and distract Macedonia from its reform course towards the EU and NATO.

The conflict in Macedonia lasted for six months and ended with the signing of the Ohrid peace accord. Following the accord, former Albanian guerrilla leaders assumed a political role and now control the major Albanian opposition party in Macedonia, the Democratic Union for Integration.

No comments: