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Macedonia: 300 Former Ethnic Albanian Rebels To Be Freed

Skopje, 11 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Macedonian Justice Ministry says some 300 former rebels from the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK) will be freed today in accordance with a new amnesty law. Justice Minister Ixhet Memeti today said the public prosecutor's office, courts, and jails will issue formal decisions ordering the rebels' release.

The law, approved by the Macedonian parliament last week, frees several thousand insurgents from prosecution. The amnesty covers crimes including high treason, mutiny, armed rebellion, and conspiracy against the state. It is considered a key point of the Ohrid peace agreement signed last August, which put an end to a six-month ethnic Albanian insurgency.

Also today, Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski ordered the lifting of a year-long curfew imposed on the town of Tetovo in northwestern Macedonia. An Interior Ministry statement says that the security situation has improved in the city and that there is no longer a need for a curfew.

Tetovo was a scene of numerous clashes between ethnic Albanian rebels and Macedonian government forces a year ago.