Former policeman from Skopje and bodyguard of Macedonian president pleads not guilty to murder and abuse of Albanian civilians and the destruction of the village of Ljuboten in August 2001

Johan Tarculovski in the courtroomJohan Tarculovski in the courtroom

At his initial appearance before the ICTY on 21 March 2005, Johan Tarculovski exercised his right to postpone entering his plea on the counts of the indictment against him by 30 days. Tarculovski – former policeman and bodyguard of the Macedonian president – was brought before a judge again this morning. After the judge read out three counts of the indictment charging him with murder, wanton destruction of a village and cruel treatment of civilians – qualified as violations of laws an customs of war – Tarculovski pleaded not guilty to the crimes he has been charged with.

Together with Ljube Boskoski, former Macedonian interior minister, Tarculovski is accused of carrying out an unlawful attack on civilians and civilian objects on 10 and 12 August 2001 in the village of Ljuboten, near Skopje. According to the indictment, Tarculovski personally selected the personnel of the special police unit to participate in the attack and commanded the operation which resulted in seven Albanian civilians dead, at least 14 houses destroyed and more than a hundred villagers of Ljuboten arrested. They were subsequently arrested an abused.

Tarculovski was arrested and surrendered to the Tribunal by the Macedonian authorities, while Boskoski was surrendered from Croatia, where he was in detention on suspicion of involvement in the murder of seven illegal immigrants from Pakistan and India who had tried to get to Western Europe through Macedonia. At his initial appearance before the Tribunal on 31 March 2005, Boskoski said that he was “absolutely innocent”, and that the indictment against him was an “anti-Macedonian act.”