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Tribunal Grants Early Release to Macedonian Policeman

Conviction of Johan Tarculovski was the only one arising out of Macedonia’s brief war in 2001.
By Rachel Irwin
  • Johan Tarculovski in the ICTY courtroom in 2010. (Photo: ICTY)
    Johan Tarculovski in the ICTY courtroom in 2010. (Photo: ICTY)

Former Macedonian police officer Johan Tarculovski has been granted early release by the president of the Hague tribunal.

Tarculovski was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in 2008, in the only case the Hague tribunal has heard in relation to the 2001 conflict in Macedonia, which pitted government forces against ethnic Albanian insurgents.

He was convicted of leading a police attack on the village of Ljuboten on August 12, 2001, and of ordering the murder and cruel treatment of its Albanian residents, as well as the destruction of their property. (See Macedonian Officer Jailed for Crimes Against Albanians.)

At the time, he was serving as a member of the presidential security service, part of the police.

His co-accused, former Macedonian interior minister Ljube Boskoski, was acquitted.

Judges ordered that Tarculovski’s 12-year term include credit for the time he had served since his arrest in March 2005. The sentence was upheld by the appeals chamber in 2010.

In July 2011, Tarculovski was transferred to Germany to serve out his sentence. According to German law, convicts are eligible for early release once they have served two-thirds of their term. It is also usual practice for the Hague tribunal to consider requests for early release at this stage.

In his April 8 decision, tribunal president Judge Theodor Meron noted that the gravity of crimes of which Tarculovski was convicted was “very high”. While he was found not to have devised the original plan to attack the village, nor did he personally commit any of the crimes, he did “plan the offences, incite the reserve police he had assembled to carry out the offences, and order them to perpetrate the crimes”.

Judge Meron cited prison psychological reports which found that Tarculovski did not hold “negative opinions” about Albanians in Macedonia, but continued not to show remorse for his actions, as he believed he was “convicted for others”. The head of the prison reported that Tarculovski had kept to the rules and was therefore recommended for early release.

Judge Meron noted that Tarculovski is in an open prison, and already enjoys 12 hours of release every week. Despite the lack of remorse shown by Tarculovski, the judge said he “appears to be a well behaved prisoner” and would not pose a threat to society if released.

Judge Meron found that the factors “weigh in favour of his early release”.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.