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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 19:32 GMT
Macedonia 'war crimes' probe
A Macedonian soldie
Both sides, soldiers and rebels, are under investigation
The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is opening its first inquiries into events in Macedonia during this year's uprising by ethnic Albanian rebels.

I've received firm commitment from the (Macedonian) authorities that they will co-operate fully

Carla del Ponte
The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, announced during a visit to the country that two separate investigations were being launched.

The actions of both rebels and government forces were being investigated, she said.

"I've received firm commitment from the (Macedonian) authorities that they will co-operate fully," said Ms Del Ponte, after meeting the country's Prime Minister, Ljubco Georgievski.

Uprising

A statement from Mr Georgievski said one investigation would focus on events in the village of Ljuboten near Skopje.

Macedonian special policeman
Special forces were among those sent to combat rebels

Six ethnic Albanian civilians were killed there, in a military operation following a land-mine explosion in which eight soldiers died.

The second case, said Mr Georgievski's statement, was related to a rebel ambush in Vejce, a village near the mainly ethnic Albanian town of Tetovo, when eight soldiers died.

The rebels began their uprising in February, near Macedonia's border with Kosovo.

Peace deal

In the six months of fighting that followed, each side accused the other of killing civilians.

Carla del Ponte
Carla del Ponte announced inquiries on visit to Skopje

A peace deal was reached in August, under which the rebels agreed to disband and surrender their weapons in return for increased rights.

Last week, the Macedonian parliament adopted a package of constitutional reforms which were part of the peace settlement, ending weeks of political deadlock.

The international community brokered the peace deal after fears the conflict could escalate and destabilise the region.


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19 Nov 01 | Europe
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