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news 15 Apr 12

Macedonian Police Establish Profile of Killers

Macedonia's Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska says that police have made "serious progress" in the investigation into the grisly murder of five men on Thursday in Skopje.

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Skopje
Macedonian Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska addresses the media concerning the murder of five men in Butel, in Macedonia's capital Skopje | Photo by Beta/AP/Boris Grdanoski

"We have established the profile of the perpetrators, but not their identity," Jankulovska told reporters on Sunday. She said that many calls from people on the special line the police set up for the case have helped eliminate some of the scenarios about the killings.

"Based on the calls we have received and our analysis of the crime scene we can say that the scenario that the men were killed because they witnessed another criminal act, is unlikely," she said.

The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on Thursday night near Zelezarsko Ezero on the northern outskirts of the capital and a popular fishing destination.  All had gunshot wounds.
Eyewitnesses said they were found by a local fisherman and the victims were believed to be fishermen too. The bodies had been lined up and appeared to have been executed with firearms. Two cars were found in the vicinity with open doors.

The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was a short distance away from the rest. His brother said that Stevkovski may have been killed because he had accidentally witnesed the murders of the others.

Flags flew at half-mast on the town hall in Skopje’s Butel municipality as the five victims were buried on Saturday.

Prime Minister Gruevski Reacts After Three Days:

Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski expressed his condolences to the families of the murdered men on Sunday.

"I want to say to the people who did this that they will not escape punishment, from the law and from God," Gruevski told reporters after the attended morning mass on Sunday at Skopje's main church.
 

Jankulovska told reporters on Saturday  that "the autopsy and the analysis of the bullet casings found at the scene show that three types of weapons were used which suggests there were more than one perpetrators". The autopsy showed the victims were shot at close range.

The news of the killings have fuelled tensions in the country between Macedonians and Albanians, prompting the police to deploy riot police to the area as hundreds of angry Macedonians gathered on Friday near the place where the bodies were found, blocking a road and demanding that the killers be brought to justice.

Dozens of them tried to enter an area populated by ethnic Albanians, seeking revenge for the murdered men, although there is nothing to suggest that the killers were Albanian.

Funeral procession of the 18-year old Aleksandar Nakevski moves through a cemetery in Radisani, just north of Macedonia's capital Skopje | Photo by Beta/AP/Boris Grdanoski

The minister said there is no evidence "to suggest the ethnic background or the identity of the killers, nor the motives for the killing. Therefore I appeal to all to restrain from any speculations that could fuel interethnic tensions," she said.

All political parties across the ethnic board offered condolences to the families of the victims, called for a swift investigation and appealed for calm and restraint. So did the EU and OSCE missions to Skopje and the US embassy.

The shocking incident, ahead of Orthodox Easter, seemed bound to cause more turbulence in the country between Macedonians and the country's large ethnic Albanian minority.

Tension between the two communities has been rising since February when an off-duty Macedonian policeman shot dead two young Albanians in the northwestern town of Gostivar.

After that, the Balkan country experienced the worst outbreak of inter-ethnic gang violence since 2001, when it narrowly avoided civil war.

During first half of March gangs of mainly young people attacked people in commuter buses and on the streets in capital and in other towns, leaving at least 15 injured. After police apprehended more than 30 suspects the incidents began to subside.


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