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Macedonian Officer Jailed for Crimes Against Albanians

The case was the only one the tribunal has heard in relation to the Macedonian conflict.
By Merdijana Sadović
Hague tribunal judges this week sentenced former bodyguard Johan Tarculovski to 12 years imprisonment for crimes committed against ethnic Albanians in the Macedonian village of Ljuboten in August 2001.

At the same time, they acquitted his co-accused, ex-Macedonian interior minister Ljube Boskoski of all charges in the indictment.

The crimes in question took place in Ljuboten between August 12 and 15, 2001, when a Macedonian police unit under Tarculovski’s command entered the village and shot dead six unarmed ethnic Albanians, as well as severely mistreating 13 other residents.

One of them was beaten so severely that he died soon afterwards.

The indictment alleged that at least 12 houses in Ljuboten were set on fire and a large number of Albanian men fleeing from the village were subjected to cruel treatment at a police checkpoint.

Boskoski was charged with command responsibility for failing to investigate the crimes and to ensure those responsible were punished.

But the trial chamber found this week that while evidence revealed “a serious failure of the functioning of the police and the responsible Macedonian authorities at that time, it has not been established that Ljube Boskoski failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures for the punishment of the police”.

The judges ruled that Tarculovski, on the other hand, had a direct role in the incident and found him guilty for “ordering, planning and instigating the crimes committed in Ljuboten”.

However, the chamber found that Tarculovski was himself acting under someone’s orders during the operation.

“The evidence does not enable the person or persons responsible for the orders to Johan Tarculovski to be identified. The circumstances confirm it was a person or persons superior to him,” said Presiding Judge Kevin Parker, reading out the verdict.

Boskoski will be released from detention upon completion of the relevant procedures, while Tarculovski will remain in the tribunal’s custody.

This was the only case related to the Macedonian conflict heard by the Hague tribunal.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s international justice/ICTY programme manager.

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