News 08 Apr 13

Macedonia’s Tarculovski Freed Early by Hague Court

The Hague Tribunal has given early release to former policeman Johan Tarculovski, the only Macedonian it has convicted of war crimes, after he served two-thirds of his sentence.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, announced on Monday that Tarculovski will be freed after serving eight years of his 12-year jail term.

Last month, after completing two-thirds of his sentence, he had become formally eligible for early release.

Taking this into account, "I consider that Tarculovski should be released now", the president of ICTY, Theodor Meron, said in the decision document released by the Tribunal.

It is not yet clear exactly when he will be released from custody.

In July 2008, the ICTY convicted former police officer Tarculovski of committing war crimes during the 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 having command responsibility.

Although Tarculovski was convicted of war crimes, some people in Macedonia see him as national hero, unjustly jailed for defending his country.

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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