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News 09 Jan 14

Fresh Probe Into Macedonian President’s Death Almost Ready

The results of a fresh probe into the 2004 plane crash that killed President Boris Trajkovski will likely differ from the previous probe's results, inquiry chief says.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Bust of Boris Trajkovski at the Skopje cemetery | Photo by: Sase Dimovski

Omer Kulic, head of a Bosnian commission leading a new inquiry into the Macedonian president's death, confirmed that they had have almost finished their work.

Their findings would likely differ from those of the previous investigation, he noted.

“The investigation is drawing to its very end. Only some technical formalities remain,” Kulic, who is also an adviser in the Bosnian Ministry of Transport, told Macedonian State Television, MRT.

“In one month at the latest, the team of investigators will arrive in Skopje to present the facts,” Kulic added.

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

The plane crashed near the southwest 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 while landing.

The fresh probe was launched last year on the request of the Macedonian government, which said new evidence ought to be taken into consideration.

According to Kulic, the results of the fresh probe would differ from the previous conclusions, which described the crash as an accident.

Through a simulated flight, investigators discovered deviations from usual flight procedures as well as problems in the navigation instruments, he told MRT.

The previous investigation failed to dampen speculation about the causes of Trajkovski’s death. Some said the amount of time spent in finding the wreckage was suspicious.

Others blamed the Mostar control tower, which was then run by the French military. Others claimed that political rivals at home in Macedonia sought and arranged the president's death.

Trajkovski’s twin brother, Aleksandar, who has since died, suggested he might have been assassinated but never named a suspect.

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

In 2012, Ignat Pancevski, lawyer to the family of one of the victims who died with Trajkovski, said evidence suggested Trajkovski’s aircraft was shot down by a military jet.

Trajkovski became President of Macedonia in 1999 and was head of state in 2001, when armed conflict erupted with ethnic Albanian militants.

He defended the internationally-brokered 2001 Ohrid peace accord, which ended the conflict by granting greater rights to the Albanian community.

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