Former Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski has been released from prison after serving a five-year sentence, after he was found guilty of illegally financing an election campaign back in 2011, local media reported on June 3.
Boskovski was interior minister in 1998-2002 in the VMRO-DPMNE government led by Ljubco Georgievski. However, after splitting from VMRO-DPMNE to found the right-wing United for Macedonia party, Boskovski became fiercely critical of the government led by ex-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. His new party was considered a serious contender in the 2011 election. On March 28, Macedonia’s special prosecution office launched an investigation against a former head of the intelligence service and six police officers for allegedly torturing Boskovski, who was arrested on June 6, 2011, the day after the general election.
Boskovski was released a few days before the termination of his prison sentence, broadcaster Nova TV reported, quoting the director of Skopje prison, Zivko Pejkovski.
Special prosecutor Fatime Fetai said in March that the Macedonian intelligence service's former head ordered Boskovski to be tortured during his arrest, which was conducted by several members of the special police force unit, Alpha. She has not revealed any names, but in 2011 the head of the secret police was Gruevski’s cousin Saso Mijalkov, who is no longer in the position.
According to Fetai, the aim of the police torture was to punish Boskovski for his criticisms of the government and top officials, mostly the cousins Gruevski and Mijalkov, during the pre-election campaign.
Mijalkov was pardoned by President Gjorge Ivanov on April 12. However, his pardon is no longer valid after the president, under domestic and international pressure, rescinded his pardons for 22 politicians, including Mijalkov. Six others involved in the torture case are still pardoned.
Boskovski was known among his supporters as "Brother Ljube”. He was found guilty of illegally funding his campaign by taking over €100,000 from a sponsor. His supporters claim the court was influenced by the ruling party.
Boskovski is a controversial figure who previously spent four years in detention in a Dutch prison in Scheveningen for war crimes he allegedly committed during the 2001 conflict in Macedonia. He was released in 2010 due to lack of evidence. In another case, Boskovski was charged with involvement in a gangster murder in 2001, but the case has been sent for a retrial by the Court of Appeals.
Supporters and members of his party repeatedly held protests for Boskovski to be released three months before the end of his prison sentence on the grounds of good behavior, as stipulated by law, but this was not allowed by the prison’s director.
The special prosecution office was set up late in 2015 as part of the EU-mediated Przino agreement for overcoming the political crisis in the country. Its task is to probe wrongdoing and corruption among top officials revealed in a wiretapping scandal.
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