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Families of Macedonian Missing Demand New Prosecution

April 16, 2013

A new human rights report on Macedonia has brought hope for relatives of people who’ve been missing since the armed conflict between government forces and rebels in 2001.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 12.04.2012

 

Macedonia went through a brief armed conflict in 2001

Encouraged by this week’s Council of Europe report on human rights in Macedonia, families of the missing are calling for the country’s chief prosecutor to reopen the politically-charged ‘Neprosteno’ case.

Ethnic Albanian rebels were accused of kidnapping and killing 12 ethnic Macedonians and one ethnic Bulgarian in the Neprosteno region of the country, but the case was annulled by parliament in 2011.

“The authorities should reopen the case so that we will find the truth and finally be able to properly bury our relatives and punish the perpetrators,” said Vojo Gogovski, whose father is one of those who went missing.

The Council of Europe human rights commissioner’s report on April 9 urged that “every effort be pursued to clarify the fate of those who are still missing”.

The conflict in 2001 saw ethnic Albanian insurgents from the now disbanded National Liberation Army, NLA, battle Macedonian security forces.

It ended after the signing of the Ohrid Peace Accord the same year and an amnesty law was then passed as part of a deal to help reintegrate former rebels into society.

In a highly controversial decision in 2011, parliament scrapped four war crimes cases concerning atrocities alleged to have been committed by the rebels, including Neprosteno.

But many suspected that the decision was part of political bargaining between the main ruling VMRO DPMNE of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and its junior Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

The DUI was formed by former NLA leaders, some of whom were suspects in the war crimes cases.

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