Former Macedonian minister charged

A former interior minister of Macedonia, Ljube Boskovski, has been charged in Croatia with the 2002 murders of seven migrants.

    Boskovski allegedly planted arms on unsuspecting migrants

    The murders were allegedly intended to look like a coup against Muslim "terrorists" infiltrating the West, Croatian state radio said on Friday.

    Boskovski fled last year to Croatia and was detained on a Macedonian warrant six months ago. He is a Croatian citizen and under Croatian law cannot be extradited to another country.

    The victims were six Pakistanis and an Indian apparently smuggled into Macedonia from Bulgaria and killed in a police ambush and dressed up with pistols and ammunition to look like a terrorist squad making its way west across the Balkans.

    Planned PR move

    The victims were killed in March 2002, six months after the 11 September attacks in the United States. Boskovski's alleged aim was to ingratiate Macedonia with the West by showing it was doing its bit in the US-led war on terrorism.

    Boskovski fled Skopje for the
    northern Istrian peninsula

    "Yes, [Boskovski] has been charged. He will be tried in Croatia and the others on the charge in Macedonia," Croatian prosecutor Vlatko Nuic told the state news agency HINA.

    Boskovski was the most nationalist minister in the Christian Orthodox Macedonian government, which had struggled to contain a six-month Albanian insurgency in 2001.

    He formed a tough paramilitary police unit known as the Lions, loyal to him alone, before Western mediation stopped the fighting and prevented all-out ethnic war in the country.

    Denies charges

    After fleeing Skopje, Boskovski lived openly in his house in Pula in the northern Istrian peninsula until his arrest.

    He has given several interviews to Croatian media denying all charges.

    Boskovski insisted he had taped evidence of conversations between Albanians and terrorists planning an attack on the US embassy in the Macedonian capital Skopje.

    At the time of the killings his Interior Ministry said the migrants had opened fire after police ordered them to stop in a rural area north of Skopje.

    The West chose not to press the issue with Skopje immediately, but some diplomats privately were quick to question the circumstances of the ambush.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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