1 Thursday, 10 July 2008
3 [Open session]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.17 p.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Please call the case.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case
7 number IT-04-82-T, The Prosecutor versus Ljube Boskoski and Johan
9 JUDGE PARKER: The Chamber is sitting today to deliver judgement
10 in the trial of the two accused persons, Ljube Boskoski and Johan
12 For the purposes of this hearing, the Chamber will summarize
13 briefly its findings, emphasizing that this is a summary only, and that
14 the only authoritative account of the Chamber's findings and of its
15 reasons for those findings is to be found in the written judgement,
16 copies of which will be made available to the parties at the conclusion
17 of this sitting.
18 The two accused, Ljube Boskoski and Johan Tarculovski, are
19 charged with crimes allegedly committed between 12 and 15 August 2001
20 against ethnic Albanians from Ljuboten village near Skopje, in the former
21 Yugoslav Republic
22 It is alleged in the indictment that a police unit commanded by
23 Johan Tarculovski entered the village on the morning 12 August; that
24 members of this unit shot and killed six unarmed ethnic Albanian
25 residents of the village; that they severely mistreated 13 ethnic
1 Albanian residents, ten of whom were subjected to further beatings at a
2 police check-point at the entrance to village, and later at Mirkovci
3 police station in Skopje
4 It is alleged further that members of the police unit
5 intentionally set on fire at least 14 houses in the village which caused
6 serious damage to these houses or destroyed them, and damaged houses by
7 the use of hand-grenades and rifle fire.
8 Further, it is alleged that in the afternoon of 12 August, about
9 90 ethnic Albanian men, fleeing from the village, were subjected to cruel
10 treatment by other police at a police check-point near the village, and
11 later at several police stations in Skopje, in Skopje Court II, and
12 Skopje Hospital
13 The police are a component element of the Ministry of Interior of
14 the government of Macedonia
15 minister of the interior. He is charged under Article 7(3) of the
16 Statute of this Tribunal enacted by the United Nations on the basis that,
17 as the minister, he was the superior of the police who committed the
18 alleged crimes; but despite of having knowledge of or reason to know what
19 they had done, he failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to
20 investigate and to ensure that they were punished for their crimes.
21 It is his alleged failure, continued until May 2002, when the
22 Prosecutor of this Tribunal announced that she was assuming
23 responsibility for the investigation of the Ljuboten case.
24 It is on this basis of his alleged responsibility as their
25 superior that Ljube Boskoski is charged in the indictment with:
1 First, the murder of seven ethnic Albanian men, a violation of
2 the laws or customs of war as recognised by Article 3(1)A of the
3 Geneva Convention of 1949. These are the six men alleged to have been
4 shot and killed in the village and the seventh man who died in hospital
5 from the beatings received in the village and at Mirkovci police station.
6 Secondly, wanton destruction of a village by setting fire to at
7 least 14 houses, a violation of the laws or customs of war.
8 And, thirdly, cruel treatment of ethnic Albanian residents of the
9 village at the various locations indicated, a violation of the laws or
10 customs of war as recognised by Article 3(1)A of the Geneva Convention of
12 The other accused, Johan Tarculovski, is charged on a quite
13 different basis from Ljube Boskoski. Johan Tarculovski was a relatively
14 junior police officer serving in the unit, providing security for the
15 president of Macedonia
16 It is alleged that he commanded the police who actually entered
17 Ljuboten village on 12 August 2001
18 attack, and was present when the crimes were committed.
19 He is charged under Article 7(1) of the Statute with having
20 ordered, planned, instigated, and aided and abetted the crimes committed
21 in the village by the police, and also for participating in a joint
22 criminal enterprise with others to commit these same crimes. The
23 indictment does not allege that he had any responsibility for the acts of
24 mistreatment which are alleged to have occurred outside Ljuboten.
25 For the Tribunal to have power to deal with crimes charged
1 against the accused, it must be proved by the Prosecution that an armed
2 conflict existed in Macedonia
3 Prosecution alleged that an internal armed conflict existed from
4 January until at least September 2001 between the security forces, that
5 is, the army and the police, and the National Liberation Army, which will
6 be referred to as the NLA. This issue was highly contested during the
7 trial. It is a complex factual and legal issue.
8 The Chamber has dealt with important aspects of the evidence and
9 set out its reasoning in the judgement. In the result, the Chamber is
10 satisfied that, by August 2001, there was an internal armed conflict
11 between the security forces and the National Liberation Army.
12 The Prosecution and Defence cases as to what occurred in Ljuboten
13 on 12 August 2001
14 The Defence submits that the events that occurred in Ljuboten
15 were part of a legitimate law enforcement operation, to search for
16 members of the NLA and to prevent future NLA attacks.
17 The Prosecution case is that the police operation in Ljuboten and
18 the destruction caused was not a legitimate law enforcement operation.
19 It was not justified by military necessity that Ljuboten was not a NLA
20 stronghold, and it was not used as a NLA logistics base.
21 The Chamber has heard a great deal of conflicting evidence on
22 this and other issues in the trial. The Chamber notes that it found that
23 some evidence from residents of the village, especially concerning the
24 presence and activities of NLA members in the village, and from members
25 of the police and the army concerning the events, was not honest and
2 The Chamber is satisfied that, in the morning of 12 August 2001,
3 a party of at least 60 to 70, and possibly more than 100, well armed
4 reserve police, including men from a private security agency called
5 Kometa, entered the village of Ljuboten
6 considerable amount of incendiary material. A police armoured personnel
7 carrier supported them. Johan Tarculovski led this group of police.
8 Macedonian army units positions in the mountainous country around the
9 village provided mortar and other fire support, especially as the unit
10 was poised and ready to enter the village.
11 Members of the army, however, are not charged in respect of these
13 The first act of the group in the village was to blow open the
14 gate to the home of an ethnic Albanian family, fire very many shots from
15 a number of police at the house, and through the open front door shooting
16 fatally an unarmed man in casual civilian clothing as he tried to close
17 the door. He died a little later in the house in the presence of members
18 of his family. The evidence does not establish that the dead man had any
19 NLA affiliations, he obviously presented no threat to the police when he
20 was shot, and he was taking no active part in hostilities. The police
21 did not seek to enter the house to search or to interview other persons
22 inside. Instead, a car and construction material in the front yard were
23 then deliberately set on fire with the aid of incendiary material the
24 police had with them. The police then moved on.
25 The next action of the police was to deliberately set fire to a
1 nearby house of another ethnic Albanian, again with the aid of incendiary
2 material the police had with them. There was no entry of the house to
3 search. The evidence does not establish that the house had been used for
4 hostilities against the police or the army that day, or that the owner
5 was affiliated with the NLA. The police continued moving along the main
6 road of the village, setting fire to some further ten houses in similar
8 Near the centre of the village, the police found a group of 13
9 male ethnic Albanians sheltering in the basements of two houses of the
10 family compound of Adem Ametovski. Women were also in one of the
11 basements. The men were unarmed, dressed in civilian clothes, and
12 offered no resistance to the arriving police. Valuables, money, and
13 identification papers were taken from the men, and valuables and money
14 from the women.
15 Outside in the front yard of one of these houses, the men were
16 forced to lie down on the ground and pull up their clothing to go cover
17 their eyes and heads. The men were then very severely and repeatedly
18 beaten and kicked by the police. Some were hit with rifle-butts as they
19 lay on the ground. They were threatened with knives, and one man had a
20 cross carved on his back by a policeman with a knife. One of the men was
21 shot in the arm or hand as he lay on the ground. One of the men in this
22 group was then shot dead while others were lying on the ground. He was
23 shot many times.
24 Most of the remaining men were then forced to walk under armed
25 escort to a police check-point at a house at the entrance to the village,
1 Brace's house. However, two elderly men were forced to stay behind at
2 Adem Ametovski's house. One of them was then shot many times by police
3 and died by the house. The remaining ten men were further violently
4 mistreated by the escorting police by Brace's house at the entrance to
5 the village, so much that some of them were rendered unconscious.
6 The men were then detained at Mirkovci police station where they
7 were subjected to further severe beatings. One of them died on the
8 following day as a result of the beatings. He had been taken to
9 hospital. He had been gravely mistreated by members of the police unit
10 in Ljuboten, and later by different police at Mirkovci police station.
11 The evidence does not establish, however, that the police led by
12 Johan Tarculovski who mistreated this man in Ljuboten village beat him
13 with the intent to murder him. The police who gravely mistreated this
14 man at Mirkovci police station were not among the police led by Johan
16 The evidence does not show that any of the men who had been
17 sheltering in Adem Ametovski's family compound had any NLA affiliations.
18 While they were shot and mistreated, they were in police custody. They
19 were unarmed, very heavily outnumbered, and obviously presented no threat
20 to the armed police. They were not taking any active part in
22 The police in the village continued and reached a group of houses
23 belonging to an ethnic Albanian family on the outskirts at the far end of
24 the village. While the evidence concerning activities at these houses is
25 in many respects unsatisfactory, it is open on the evidence that there
1 could have been firing at the police and at the army from one or more of
2 these houses. As the police approached these house, five men ran from
3 the back of one of these houses, uphill across a field from the house
4 towards trees. As they were running, they came under heavy fire from the
5 police and also fire from army positions located on a slope above the
6 village. Two of the men managed to escape. The dead bodies of the other
7 three men were found in the field. All three had been hit by very many
9 It is the evidence of the police that three fire-arms and
10 ammunition were found by the police near the bodies of these three dead
11 men. However, this evidence about these weapons is suspect, because the
12 same three weapons were later claimed by police to have been the weapons
13 of some of the 13 men mentioned earlier who were sheltering the cellars
14 of Adem Ametovski's compound. They were used in evidence in court
15 proceeds against those men.
16 The bodies of these three dead men in the field and the bodies of
17 the two men would had been shot many times by police earlier outside the
18 house of Adem Ametovski were left where they had fallen. No police
19 investigation of the scenes or of the bodies was undertaken. They were
20 buried by villagers two days later.
21 Eventually, some eight months later, the bodies of these men were
22 exhumed in the presence of representatives of this Tribunal, and
23 autopsies were conducted. However, the bodies had undergone significant
24 changes in that time.
25 In respect of the three men shot in the field, it was established
1 that many bullets had entered the bodies from more than one direction,
2 but it was not possible to determine which bullet or bullets had actually
3 caused the deaths. It is not possible to determine, therefore, whether
4 these three men died from police or army fire. The charges are limited
5 to firing by the police. It has not been established, therefore, that
6 the police caused the deaths of these three men.
7 Further, while the evidence is not fully convincing, it is
8 possible that these three men that were shot in the field had been firing
9 at the police or army and were running with their weapons to other
10 shelter. On this view, it has not been established that they were not
11 engaged in armed hostilities.
12 For these two reasons, it has not been proved that the three men
13 shot in the field were murdered by the police.
14 As people were trying to flee from the village in the afternoon
15 of 12 August, at a police station on the road to Skopje, which was manned
16 by different police and not those who had entered Ljuboten, men were
17 separated from women and subjected to cruel treatment. From there, they
18 were taken to police stations in Skopje, where many of them were further
19 severely mistreated. In turn, several of the Ljuboten residents detained
20 at police stations in Skopje
21 were brought to Skopje Court II.
22 There is evidence that, at each of three's two locations, the men
23 may have been further mistreated. It has not been established, however,
24 that the persons who carried out the assaults at the court and the
25 hospital were under the authority of the minister of the interior.
1 As has been indicated, the only basis on which Ljube Boskoski
2 could be convicted of the offences charged in the indictment is as a
3 superior pursuant to the provisions of Article 7(3) of the Statute. That
4 is what is usually described as command responsibility.
5 A primary contention of the Boskoski Defence is that Ljube
6 Boskoski was neither de jure nor de facto a superior of the police that
7 entered Ljuboten on 12 August 2001
8 the other police at the police check-point, police stations, the court,
9 or in the hospital, where it is alleged the offences occurred.
10 Further, it is submitted, that Ljube Boskoski had no power to
11 punish any of these persons within the meaning of Article 7(3). A great
12 deal of evidence was advanced in an effort to support these contentions.
13 Despite this, for reasons detailed in the written judgement, the
14 Chamber is satisfied that Ljube Boskoski, as minister of the interior at
15 the time, had the power to control and direct the police and any other
16 operative employees of the Ministry of Interior, including members of the
17 reserve police. This power also extended to ensure that those police
18 responsible for investigating possible crime, including those who were
19 required to act at the direction of the judiciary and to assist the
20 Prosecutor, that is, the criminal police in the Ministry of Interior,
21 performed their functions efficiently and lawfully. Of course, this
22 power to control and direct extended to the accused Johan Tarculovski,
23 who was then an employee of the Ministry of Interior.
24 Contrary to some media reports and the understanding of some
25 people at the time, Ljube Boskoski was not at Ljuboten and directing the
1 police operation throughout 12 August. As news of the operation spread,
2 he was asked by the president to go there. He reached Ljuboten as the
3 operation was drawing to a close and was able to see something of events
4 in the village from Brace's house at the entrance to the village. He was
5 there for over an hour.
6 The evidence discloses that he was told that there had been a
7 successful operation against terrorists and that some of them had been
8 arrested. He was not told that any had been shot. He saw, at a little
9 distance, the ten men who remained of those detained at Adem Ametovski's
10 house in the village. They had been escorted to Brace's house from the
11 village. They were again lying face down with their heads covered, and
12 it is not apparent that he would have had any reason to think that they
13 had been severely mistreated. Smoke could be seen rising from parts of
14 the village, but that could be consistent with armed hostilities against
16 In short, what he could see and what he was told by police gave
17 him no reason to believe that there may have been murder, cruel
18 treatment, or wanton destruction.
19 By two days later, however, he had received police reports that
20 terrorists had been killed. In addition, by virtue of information from
21 diplomatic figures, human rights and other organisations, and the media,
22 Ljube Boskoski quickly knew of serious allegations about the conduct of
23 police in Ljuboten and elsewhere on 12 August and the following day. As
24 this information available to him grew, it was sufficient to put him on
25 notice of the likelihood that crimes may have been committed by the
1 police. As their superior, Ljube Boskoski was obliged to investigate
2 this or report it to the competent authorities in Macedonia who were
3 responsible for investigating possible criminal conduct, so that the
4 matter could be fully investigated and offenders punished if this was
6 For the purposes of Article 7(3) of the Statute, his obligation
7 as a superior to punish offending subordinates would be satisfied if a
8 report was made to the appropriate authorities which was likely to
9 trigger an investigation into the alleged criminal conduct.
10 In fact, two reports were made in the course of their ordinary
11 duties by police of the Ministry of Interior to the appropriate
12 authorities; that is, the investigating judicial authority and to the
13 public prosecutor. On the evening of 12 August 2001, a report was made
14 of the dead men in Ljuboten and a further report was made following the
15 death in hospital of the man mistreated in Ljuboten and then at Mirkovci
16 police station.
17 Ljube Boskoski was informed that the judicial authorities had
18 been notified and that steps to investigate had already been attempted.
19 While these reports by his officers were not full or accurate and did not
20 detail all possible criminal conduct, they were such that they were
21 likely to trigger an investigation. Indeed, by virtue of the existing
22 laws, they should have caused a judicial investigation, supported by the
23 public prosecutor, into each of the deaths in the course of which the
24 investigative judge and the public prosecutor ought also to have become
25 officially aware of the closely related allegations of misconduct by
1 police involving cruel treatment and wanton destruction so as to be able
2 to determine whether criminal charges were justified.
3 In fact, there was not an investigation by the responsible
4 authorities. No criminal proceedings were instituted against any police.
5 There are a number of reasons for this. Failures by the police at police
6 station Cair to perform their responsibilities adequately on
7 12 August 2001
8 attention to their responsibilities by the responsible authorities are
9 primary factors.
10 Ljube Boskoski had no authority or powers in respect of the
11 responsible authorities; that is, the investigative judge and the public
12 prosecutor, who were not within the Ministry of Interior. It is not
13 shown that the failure of police to perform their duties is attributed to
14 his orders or was known to Ljube Boskoski during the period charged in
15 the indictment or that it should have been anticipated by him. It is not
16 established, therefore, that further reporting or other action by Ljube
17 Boskoski to satisfy his obligation under Article 7(3) of the Statute was
19 While the circumstances disclosed by the evidence reveal a
20 serious failure of the functioning of the police and the responsibility
21 Macedonian authorities at the time, it has not been established that
22 Ljube Boskoski failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures for
23 the punishment of the police which were required by him by Article 7(3)
24 of the Statute.
25 As already indicated, the indictment charges the accused Johan
1 Tarculovski with individual criminal liability under Article 7(1) of the
2 statute for ordering, planning, instigating, or aiding and abetting the
3 crimes referred to in Article 3 of the Statute and described in the
4 indictment and with committing them by participation in a joint criminal
6 Contrary to the case advanced for Johan Tarculovski, the evidence
7 satisfies the Chamber that he played a prominent role in the events of
8 12 August 2001
9 logistical preparations for the operation. Support was provided by the
10 police and the army. He coordinated this and mortar and other support
11 provided by the army.
12 On 12 August, Johan Tarculovski personally led the police
13 operation and was with the police as they moved through the village.
14 Although not formally appointed, Johan Tarculovski exercised effective
15 leadership and control of the police in the village that day. The
16 actions of the police in the village were at his direction.
17 The Chamber is satisfied, therefore, that the accused Johan
18 Tarculovski is criminally responsible for ordering, planning, and
19 instigating the offences committed by the police in the village. In view
20 of his direct role in ordering the commission of these offences, it is
21 not the case that he merely aided and abetted their commission.
22 The evidence does not establish that Johan Tarculovski
23 participated in a joint criminal enterprise as alleged in the indictment.
24 The reserve police with him in the village were acting under his orders,
25 not as fellow participants in a joint criminal enterprise.
1 Further, as detailed in the written Judgement, the Chamber is
2 satisfied that Johan Tarculovski was himself acting under orders in
3 carrying out the police operation in Ljuboten. The evidence does not
4 enable the person or persons responsible for the orders to Johan
5 Tarculovski to be identified. The circumstances confirm it was a person
6 or persons superior to him.
7 It is to be noted that the police operation on 12 August occurred
8 on the day before the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement which
9 brought to an end the fighting between the Macedonian security forces and
10 the NLA.
11 The pattern of conduct in the village by the police discloses, in
12 the finding of the Chamber, a deliberate and indiscriminate attack on
13 residents of Ljuboten of Albanian ethnicity, involving acts of murder and
14 cruel treatment as well as the indiscriminate and wanton destruction of
15 houses and other property of ethnic Albanian residents of Ljuboten.
16 It was not a law enforcement operation to locate and arrest NLA
17 members. The predominant objective of this police operation was to
18 retaliate against persons of Albanian ethnicity in the village for
19 actions of the NLA, which the village was thought to have harboured or
20 supported, in killing ethnic Macedonian soldiers, most especially in
21 respect of a land-mine attack at a location close to Ljuboten on
22 10 August 2001
23 were wounded. The operation was not only a means of retaliation, it also
24 would serve as a warning of the consequences of support in the village
25 for the NLA.
1 Ljube Boskoski, would you please stand.
2 The Chamber founds you not guilty on all counts in the
3 indictment. The Chamber orders that you be released from the United
4 Nations Detention Unit, subject to the completion of the necessary
6 You may be seated.
7 Johan Tarculovski, will you please stand.
8 The Chamber founds you guilty pursuant to Article 7(1) of the
9 statute of the following offences:
10 Count 1, murder, a violation of the laws or customs of war, under
11 Article 3 of the Statute, for having ordered, planned and instigated the
12 murder of Rami Jusufi, Sulejman Bajrami, and Muharem Ramadani;
13 Count 2, wanton destruction, a violation of the laws or customs
14 of war, under Article 3 of the Statute, for having ordered, planned, and
15 instigated the wanton destruction of the houses or other property of the
16 12 ethnic Albanian residents identified in the written judgement;
17 Count 3, cruel treatment, a violation of the laws or customs of
18 war, under Article 3 of the statute, for having ordered, planned, and
19 instigated the cruel treatment at Adem Ametovski's house of the 13 ethnic
20 Albanian residents identified in the written judgement, and the cruel
21 treatment at Brace's house of the ten ethnic Albanian residents
22 identified in the written judgement.
23 With respect to sentence, the Chamber has set out in the written
24 judgement the many matters that have been taken into account in
25 determining the appropriate sentence. In particular, the Chamber has
1 taken into account the sentencing structure in the former Yugoslav
2 Republic of Macedonia
3 offences in some ways similar to those of which you have been convicted.
4 The Chamber would emphasize that you were a relatively junior
5 officer of the police acting under orders when you planned, instigated,
6 and ordered the commission of these offences. This does not excuse your
7 conduct, but it affects the degree of the seriousness of your conduct.
8 You are sentenced to a single sentence of 12 years imprisonment.
9 Full credit will be given for the time you have spent in custody. You
10 will remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending the finalization of
11 arrangements for your transfer to the state where you will serve your
13 You may sit down.
14 This concludes this trial.
15 The Chamber will now adjourn.
16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 3.04 p.m.