Macedonia seeks new probe for 2004 plane crash

Feb 29, 2012, 3:21 PM

Associated Press

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) – Macedonia called for a new investigation Wednesday into a crash eight years ago that killed the country’s president, saying Bosnia should open a more detailed probe after new evidence emerged.

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and eight others were killed in the crash near the Bosnian town of Mostar on Feb. 26, 2004.

Speculation about the cause of Trajkovski’s death spread almost immediately after the crash, with some suspecting his rivals at home might have arranged his demise. Some pointed to the extensive amount of time it took for the wreckage to be found in the hills near Mostar. Others suspected Mostar’s air traffic control, which at the time was run by French military personnel.

Bosnian authorities conducted an investigation at the time, and concluded the plane crashed because of bad weather conditions and pilot error during a landing attempt.

But a nearly four-year probe by local and foreign experts has uncovered new evidence, Macedonian government spokesman Martin Martinoski said. The government received the report Tuesday night and has sent it to the country’s main prosecutor.

It recommends a further investigation into the crash itself and the preceding 26 hours, including the activities of NATO-led international peacekeepers in the area. No further details were given, including what the new evidence was.

Martinoski said Bosnian authorities had “never opened a deeper official investigation into the plane crash.”

Trajkovski had been on his way from Skopje to Mostar to attend a business forum when his plane crashed during a landing attempt, killing him and the other eight members of his staff and flight crew on board.

His twin brother, Aleksandar, insisted last year that the late president had been deliberately killed.

“It was a murder, not an accident for me,” he said. “Someone was bothered by his job, his honesty, his successes and it was best he be removed physically,” he said. Aleksandar Trajkovski died in December of a heart attack.

However, the original official investigation showed that the aircraft descended prematurely from the standard landing route, causing it to crash into the nearby hills.

The new report will also be handed to the European Parliament’s legal affairs and human rights committee, the Council of Europe and to Andreas Gross, a Swiss member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Macedonia seeks new probe for 2004 plane crash