Interpol approached by military police for alleged assault by British soldiers in the Balkans | United Kingdom | New

It comes as authorities in North Macedonia are under pressure to speed up their investigation into the incident – which happened four months ago. The British Army had previously officially requested evidence from local investigators, following the accusations exclusively revealed by Express.co.uk.

Josh (not his real name) was in the Saloon bar near the center of Skopje, North Macedonia, during a trip to the country on May 11. He was drinking with friends when a group of four men he said were visibly intoxicated. for a fight”.

After hearing them speak English, he attempted to have a polite conversation, and he said the men identified themselves as members of the 16th Air Assault Brigade and said they had been “deployed here to a training”.

Two days later, on 13 May, 16 Air Assault Brigade was designated by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) as having been deployed to North Macedonia for a NATO training exercise.

Josh had “no interest” in the “aggressive” behavior and so moved to the back of the bar. When he and a friend of his left the bar again 15 minutes later, he said, they launched an attack.

READ MORE: British Army soldiers allegedly beat and stabbed Briton

Josh said one of the assailants hit his head on the pavement, leaving him with a brain injury he still suffers from and had to miss work for long periods of time. He says he was also stabbed in the left hand with a broken beer bottle brandished by one of the men.

He and a source in North Macedonia’s prosecutor’s office have previously said they believe the unit is “not cooperating” with the local investigation – a claim the Defense Ministry disputes.

A Ministry of Defense spokesperson told Express.co.uk at the time that as of July 29, the Royal Military Police had not yet been called upon by North Macedonian authorities to support the case.

However, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said in mid-August that the British military had since “formally requested” a copy of the CCTV evidence “in order to identify the soldiers involved in the event”.

The Ministry of Defense said the Royal Military Police had since provided support to North Macedonian investigators after his request. But he disagreed with the Foreign Office over the nature of his contacts with Interpol over the case.

In an email from the British Consulate in Sofia on August 26, viewed by Express.co.uk, a diplomat wrote: “The Royal Military Police have formally requested, through Interpol, jurisdiction over this matter to allow him to carry out a thorough investigation. .

“We are currently awaiting a decision from the North Macedonian authorities on granting this.”

However, the Ministry of Defense said the Royal Military Police had not actively sought to transfer jurisdiction from North Macedonian authorities and that the engagement with Interpol was intended to reiterate its support for the local case.

The prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the reasons for the request, but suggested it had difficulty receiving information from the British military.

A spokesperson said: “We would only like to mention that the investigative authorities of the Republic of North Macedonia also require the assistance of the British Military Police in order to identify the British citizens involved in the event. “

A Ministry of Defense spokesman said he did not know the identity of the alleged perpetrators and therefore could not say whether they were British Army servicemen.

On the North Macedonian side, a source in the prosecutor’s office said that it was not until July 27 – the day after this site first contacted them – that official notification was received from the country’s interior ministry, including preliminary evidence and images.

The source said that previously they had not received any evidence from the police.

The Defense Ministry’s earlier statement also suggested that North Macedonian authorities had done nothing with the footage they had for at least two months.

An army spokesman said: “We are aware of the allegations made against military personnel deployed during exercises in North Macedonia.

“Jurisdiction rests with the North Macedonian authorities who have requested the assistance of the Royal Military Police in their investigation, and this support has been offered to them.

“It would be inappropriate to comment while investigations are ongoing.”

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