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Macedonian Trial Upcoming

Boskoski and Tarculoski case set to begin next spring.
By Caroline Tosh
The Hague tribunal announced this week that the trial of Macedonia’s former minister of the interior Ljube Boskoski and his ex-bodyguard Johan Tarculoski will begin in March or April next year.

Boskoski and Tarculoski are charged with murder, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, and cruel treatment allegedly committed during the attack on the ethnic Albanian village of Ljuboten five years ago.

The indictment states that seven Macedonian Albanian civilians were killed, 14 houses were burned and more than a hundred villagers were arrested and subjected to mental and physical abuse during and after the attack, which took place on August 12, 2001, in the midst of Macedonia’s brief civil war.

Tarculovski is accused of planning and organising the attack, and taking part in it, while his co-accused stands charged with doing nothing to prevent it or punish those who carried it out.

Judge Albin Eser, who was appointed as pre-trial judge on November 23, said he favoured a trial start date in the first half of April - after the Easter break - so there would be no interruption.

He said it was expected to be quite a short trial. “Somewhat of a novelty in this tribunal,” he added.

The prosecution announced at the last pre-trial hearing in August that it had slashed the estimated time needed to present the case from seven to eight months to just seven weeks.

This week, two defense counsels refused to say how long they would need to present their cases. They said they would do so after examining the prosecution evidence against their respective clients.

The judge said there was therefore “little point” in asking how long the trial was anticipated to last.

Neither the prosecutor, nor the two defense counsels - Edina Residovic for Boskoski and Antonio Apostolski for Tarculovski - saw a problem with a start date of March or April 2007.

Dan Saxon, the prosecutor, said he was still waiting for hundreds of pages of documents to be translated from the Macedonian language into English, but expected this to be done by the end of February.

Neither accused reported any problems with their health or conditions of detention.

Boskoski commended the conditions in the detention unit as being “very fit and decent”, thanked the prosecution team for providing the defence with exculpatory material, and wished them “good Christmases and New Year’s Days”.

A meeting took place following the hearing to allow the prosecution and defense to resolve other matters in preparation for the trial.

An exact trial date will be announced soon.

Caroline Tosh is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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