Johan Tarculovski, former bodyguard of the Macedonian president, was convicted of the murder, wanton destruction and inhumane treatment and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Ljube Boskoski, former Macedonian police minister, was found not guilty of failing to investigate the crimes committed by his subordinates and to punish them

Ljube Boskoski and Johan Tarculovski in the courtroomLjube Boskoski and Johan Tarculovski in the courtroom

Johan Tarculovski, former police officer from Macedonia, was convicted and sentenced to twelve years in prison for the killing of three Macedonian Albanians, burning down of at least 12 houses and inhumane treatment of about twenty villagers of the village of Ljuboten in August 2001. Ljube Boskoski, former Macedonian interior minister, was acquitted of failure to investigate the crimes committed by his subordinates and punish them.

The Trial Chamber with Australian judge Kevin Parker presiding concluded that the police entered the Macedonian village of Ljuboten ‘under the effective leadership’ of Tarculovski in the morning of 12 August 2001. The police killed three villagers of Ljuboten and burned down their homes. Twenty villagers were beaten up in the village and at the police check point nearby. Others were taken to police stations in Skopje, brought before the investigating judge and convicted of terrorist activities. The victims of police torture were ‘unarmed Macedonian Albanians who posed no threat for the police and who didn’t take part in hostilities’ between the security forces and the members of the National Liberation Army of the Macedonian Albanians, the Trial Chamber concluded.

Despite “serious failure” it observed in the “functioning of the police and the responsible Macedonian authorities at that time”, the Trial Chamber found that Boskoski didn’t fail to fulfill his obligation to investigate crimes and punish perpetrators. As the judges concluded, the police filed two reports on the murders to the appropriate investigative bodies and the public prosecutor and these bodies were duty-bound to ‘launch an investigation into every death’. They failed to do so. The Trial Chamber accepted the defense argument that minister Boskoski ‘had no authority over the investigative bodies’.

Johan Tarculovski was convicted of planning, instigating and ordering the crimes qualified as violations of laws and customs of war. In the indictment, Tarculovski was also charged with aiding and abetting of crimes committed in the village of Ljuboten but the Trial Chamber dismissed the charge for lack of evidence. Also, Tarculovski was found not guilty of crimes committed ‘outside of Ljuboten’, in police stations in the greater Skopje area and in the Skopje Court and city hospital. The charges of participation in a joint criminal enterprise were also dismissed.

When considered the sentence for Tarculovski, the Trial Chamber took into account the fact that at the time of the Ljuboten operation he was ‘a young police officer’ who followed ‘the orders he received from the others’. The judges were not able to ascertain who issued orders for the operation in the village of Ljuboten. The defense contended that the orders had come from the then Macedonian president, Boris Trajkovski. Tarculovski will receive credit for time served in the Detention Unit since March 2005. The Trial Chamber has ordered Boskoski's release as soon as administrative formalities are done.