News 07 Nov 12

Bosnia Revisits Macedonian President’s Death

Bosnia's aviation authorities have promised to look at new evidence from Macedonia concerning the 2004 plane crash that killed President Trajkovski.

Sase Dimovski and Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Late Macedonian President, Boris Trajkovski

Sotir Kostov, head of the Macedonian state commission for the investigation of aviation accidents, confirmed the fresh information, which is likely to revive speculation that Boris Trajkovski may have been assassinated.

“We have been saying all the time that we have evidence, which the Bosnian commission that investigated the accident in 2004 did not take in to account," he said.

"With this move, our Bosnian colleagues have shown that they trust us,” Kostov added.

He explained that if the Bosnian commission that works within Bosnia's Ministry of Transport determines inconsistencies in the previous investigation, it will pass the case to the Bosnian Prosecution, which may then decide to reopen the investigation.

The request to reopen the investigation comes from the Macedonian government. Earlier this year the Macedonian Police Minister, Gordana Jankulovska, said Skopje wanted to reopen the investigation after uncovering fresh leads into the air crash.

The new information was apparently contained in a fresh report that the government commissioned three years ago.

Based on this, the government passed the report to the State Prosecutor as well as the Bosnian Civil Aviation Directorate, requesting reopening of the investigation.

Trajkovski died on February 26, 2004 on his way to an international conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a government plane.

The plane crashed near the southwestern Bosnian town of Mostar amid thick fog and heavy rain. Eight other people died in the disaster.

A previous investigation by a joint Bosnian-Macedonian team concluded that the crash was an accident. The fault was mainly attributed to mistakes made by the crew during landing.

This did not dampen feverish speculation into the causes of Trajkovski’s death. Some said the extensive amount of time spent in finding the wreckage was in itself suspicious.

Others blamed the Mostar control tower, which at the time was run by the French military. Others again claimed that political rivals at home in Macedonia sought and arranged his death.

Trajkovski’s recently deceased twin brother, Aleksandar, on several occasions suggested he might have been assassinated but never named anybody.

Andreas Gross, a Swiss member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and a personal friend, have said he suspected foul play.

At a press conference in Skopje this week, Ignat Pancevski, lawyer to the family of one of the victims that died with Trajkovski, said he possessed a satellite video recording that shows a war plane shooting down Trajkovski’s aircraft. He said the same video showed soldiers burning the crash site.

"I wanted to present the video to the Macedonian prosecution but was refused a meeting... I will also offer the video to the Bosnian authorities before deciding whether to publish it," Pancevski said.

Trajkovski became president of Macedonia in 1999 and was head of state during the armed conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels in 2001.

He strongly defended the 2001 Ohrid Accord, which ended the conflict by granting greater rights to the Albanian minority.

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