Judges uphold Macedonian policeman's murder conviction

19th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Appeal judges of a UN war crimes court confirmed Wednesday the conviction and 12-year jail sentence of a former Macedonian police officer for killing unarmed villagers in August 2001.

"The appeals chamber ... dismisses Johan Tarculovski's appeal in its entirety," presiding judge Patrick Robinson of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said in The Hague.

He said the former policeman was correctly convicted in July 2008 for an attack on the northern Macedonian village of Ljuboten in which six ethnic Albanian civilians were killed.

The court dismissed a parallel challenge by prosecutors against the acquittal of Tarculovski's co-accused, Macedonian ex-interior minister Ljube Boskoski.

"The predominant object of the operation was to indiscriminately attack Albanian villagers and property," Robinson said, adding Tarculovski "had the necessary intent" and was involved in the planning of the raid during the conflict between ethnic Albanian rebels and government forces.

The court also found that Tarculovski had instructed police members under his control to commit the crimes.

It upheld his conviction for ordering, planning and instigating murder, and for wanton destruction and cruel treatment over the severe mistreatment of other villagers and the burning of houses in the 2001 attack.

The court ordered Tarculovski "to remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending the finalisation of arrangements for his transfer to the State in which his sentence will be served". This has not yet been announced.

The court said Boskoski could not, however, be held responsible for any Macedonian failure to investigate the crimes as "the judicial authorities were not under his ministerial authority".

"It was not shown that Ljube Boskoski failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures."

The pair were the only Macedonians indicted by the tribunal, created by the UN Security Council to prosecute those accused of serious crimes during the 1990s Balkans wars.

© 2010 AFP

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