In her opening statement, Ljube Boskoski’s defense counsel notes that the accused ‘transparently and impartially’ took ‘all the necessary and reasonable measures to find and punish the perpetrators’ of the crimes in the village of Ljuboten on 12 August 2001. In her view, the prosecution case ‘is set up the wrong way; the prosecution is knocking on the wrong door’

Edina Residovic, defense attorney for Ljubeta BoskoskiEdina Residovic, defense attorney for Ljubeta Boskoski

Ljube Boskoski’s defense counsel Edina Residovic stated in her opening statement that Boskoski had taken all the necessary and reasonable steps to find and punish the perpetrators of the crimes in the village of Ljuboten. Boskoski is charged with command responsibility for his failure to investigate the crimes in this Macedonian village on 12 August 2001 and to punish the perpetrators who were, the prosecution alleges, under his control.

As the defense sees it, by its efforts to prove ‘the non-existent responsibility’, the prosecution ‘set its case up the wrong way’ and is ‘knocking on the wrong door’. The Interior Ministry was ‘ascribed duties the police doesn’t have by law’, while the minister was declared ‘responsible for everything just because he was a minister’.

The defense counsel pointed that ‘command responsibility doesn’t imply an obligation to achieve a result but to take all necessary measures’. This is what Boskoski did, the defense contends, ‘transparently and impartially’. ‘A superior cannot be asked to do the impossible’, Residovic said. Boskoski informed the district attorney of what had happened in Ljuboten, she stressed. He went on to set up a commission, whose task was to investigate the killings in the village and proposed that the victims be exhumed. The last initiative ‘was not within the minister’s purview at all’, the defense counsel noted.

The defense intends to call five witnesses who will testify about the ‘practice that determined Minister Boskoski’s conduct’. They should clarify the position, structure and functions of the Interior Ministry within Macedonia’s legal system, the position of reservists and the role of the minister in disciplinary proceedings. The defense will tender into evidence written statements of eleven witnesses about the context of the events, the role Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski played in the events in Ljuboten and about the personality of the accused.

The defense counsel concluded her opening statement by saying that ‘both she and Boskoski believed in international justice and this Tribunal’. She is convinced that the ‘Trial Chamber will judge Ljube Boskoski fairly and acquit him’ of the charges. Boskoski ‘is not responsible for the things he is accused of’.

The first defense witness will give evidence tomorrow morning.