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Prosecutor v. Ljube Boškoski and Johan Tarčulovski

Court International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Appeals Chamber, The Netherlands
Case number IT-04-82-A
Decision title Judgment (public)
Decision date 19 May 2010
  • The Prosecutor
  • Ljube Boškoski
  • Johan Tarčulovski
Categories War crimes
Keywords cruel treatment, FYROM, Internal armed conflict, Murder, Wanton destruction, war crimes
Other countries involved
  • Macedonia
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On 12 August 2001 the village of Ljuboten, located in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), was attacked. The police killed ethnic Albanians and set fire to homes in the village. Ljube Boškoski was the Minister of the Interior of the FYROM while Johan Tarčulovski was a police officer. For their role and participation in these events, they were brought before Trial Chamber II of the ICTY. While Trial Chamber II acquitted Boškoski of the charges, it did find Tarčulovski guilty of war crimes.

Tarčulovski presented seven grounds of appeal to the Appeals Chamber, arguing that Trial Chamber II made incorrect interpretations of the law with regard to the elements of war crimes, his individual criminal responsibility and in considering evidence.

The Prosecution appealed the acquittal of Boškoski on the ground that he should have been held responsible for his failure to punish his subordinates for committing the crimes at Ljuboten.

However, the Appeals Chamber disagreed with both the Accused and the Prosecution; Tarčulovski's sentencing was upheld, and so was Boškoski's acquital.

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Procedural history

On 12 August 2001 a police operation resulted in attacks on Ljuboten, a village located in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Ethnic Albanian residents were killed or transferred to police stations outside of the village, while houses were set on fire by the police. At this time, Boškoski was the FYROM's Minister of the Interior, while Tarčulovski was a member of the police force (para. 2). 

The two accused were indicted for violations of the laws or customs of war under the indictment of 2 November 2005. The trial commenced on 16 April 2007 and the Trial Chamber delivered its judgment on 10 July 2008.

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Related developments

Tarčulovski was transferred in July 2011 to Germany, where he is currently serving his sentence.

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Legally relevant facts

During the trial phase of the proceedings, Trial Chamber II found Boškoski not responsible for any of the charges, although Tarčulovski was found liable of counts of war crimes. He was subsequently sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment (paras. 3-4).

The Prosecution filed an appeal with respect to Boškoski (para. 8) while Tarčulovski appealed on seven grounds against the trial judgment (para. 5).

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Core legal questions

  • Did Trial Chamber II err in its findings with regard to the conviction of Boškoski and Tarčulovski? 
  • Can the Appeals Chamber uphold any of the grounds of appeal adduced by the appellants?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Article 25 of the ICTY Statute.
  • Rules 117 and 118 of the ICTY RPE.

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Court's holding and analysis

The Appeals Chamber first addressed the seven grounds of appeal of Tarčulovski. 

In his first and second ground, Tarčulovski challenged the Trial Chamber's interpretation of an armed conflict and the effects on humanitarian rules of a legitimate use of force by a conflicting party (paras. 19 et seq, 38 et seq). The Appeals Chamber, however, upheld the findings of Trial Chamber II, dismissing the appellant's grounds (paras. 37, 53).

Furthermore, the Appeals Chamber ruled that Tarčulovski did not demonstrate that Trial Chamber II erred in its findings under any of the other grounds. The appellant argued that Trial Chamber II erred in its findings on the requirements of war crimes and his individual criminal responsibility. He challenged the testimony of several witnesses and the admission of certain statements that he made while in office at the Ministry. Finally, he disagreed with the twelve year sentence he received from Trial Chamber II. The Appeals Chamber considered and dismissed all these grounds (paras. 56; 120, 175, 201, 223).

The Prosecution adduced arguments in order to challenge the acquittal of Boškoski on the basis of superior responsibility pursuant to Article 7(3) of the Statute. The Appeals Chamber, however, dismissed these as well (para. 273).

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials

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