News 21 Feb 13

Macedonian Hague Convict 'Could be Freed Soon'

The defence lawyer for Johan Tarculovski, the only Macedonian convicted of war crimes by the Hague Tribunal, said he could be given an early release as soon as next month.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

 Johan Tarculovski

Tarculovski’s lawyer, Antonio Apostolski, said he had been informed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, that the early release procedure was already under way following an appeal from the defence.

“This means that the court has given a positive opinion about Tarculovski and that they are now only waiting for a signature from the head of the court,” Apostolski told Macedonian media.

He said he hoped that if all goes well, former police commander Tarculovski might be back in the country just in time to cast his vote in the March 24 local elections.

Tarculovski has already served eight years of his 12-year jail term. In March, after serving two-thirds of his sentence, he becomes formally eligible for early release.

In July 2008, the ICTY convicted Tarculovski of committing war crimes during the ethnic conflict between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 2001.

He was found guilty of leading a police unit that killed ethnic Albanian civilians and committed other atrocities in the village of Ljuboten, near Skopje.

But the ICTY acquitted Tarculovski’s chief, the former Macedonian police minister Ljube Boskovski, who was charged with command responsibility.

The 2001 hostilities ended with the signing of a peace deal that year that granted greater rights to ethnic Albanians who make up about a quarter of the country’s population.

Hopes for Tarculovksi’s early release grew at the end of 2012 after the Hague court’s acquittals of ex-Kosovo Liberation Army leader Ramush Haradinaj and two wartime Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.

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