Kosovo police detained the remaining two ethnic Albanian suspects wanted for killing five Macedonians in a politically-charged case that raised ethnic tensions.
Police said they had detained Alil Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic, the last two of six ethnic Albanians wanted for trial over the high-profile killings near Skopje, the capital of neighbouring Macedonia, in April 2012.
“The two persons for whom an international arrest warrant was issued were arrested today at about 7pm,” Kosovo police spokesperson Arber Beka told BIRN on Sunday evening.
He said that the suspects would remain in preliminary detention for 48 hours until the prosecutor decides how to take the case forward.
The Macedonian prosecution has pressed terrorism charges against the six men suspected of having organised and committed the murders.
The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on April 12 last year.
Their corpses had been lined up and appeared to have been executed. The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was found a short distance away from the rest.
The trial, known locally as the ‘Monster’ case, opened in Skopje in December, while Demiri and Ismailovic were still on the run. The others have pleaded not guilty.
According to the charges, the group wanted to provoke ethnic tensions.
The court case was already coming to a close and the trial was set to resume on Tuesday with closing arguments from the prosecution and defence.
But if the two recently-arrested suspects are extradited to Macedonia, there is a possibility that the trial might have to be restaged.
The arrests on Sunday came after two days of violent protests in Skopje that followed the controversial appointment of a former ethnic Albanian guerrilla as Macedonia’s defense minister.
The protests escalated into clashes with police for a second day on Saturday when ethnic Albanians took to the streets to demonstrate over alleged mob attacks on their kin by Macedonians during a protest on Friday against the defence minister’s appointment.
At least 15 people were injured and at least 15 arrested in Saturday's clashes, the authorities said.
In 2001, Macedonia went through a short but violent conflict between government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels which ended with the signing of the Ohrid peace accord that granted more rights to Albanians and disbanded the guerrilla force.