Albanian political parties in Macedonia are using the sentences in the murder of a young Macedonian in the political campaign, promising leniency to the ethnic Albanian murderers if they win the presidential elections. The two ruling parties, SDSM and DUI, jumped on the case are are using it for their political gain, promising more judicial purges, as the second round of voting draws near.

Nikola Sazdovski – Sazdo, a 21 year old fan of the Vardar football club, was attacked by three ethnic Albanians in June 2018. Besir Bela, Skender Demiri and Jeton Luza were apparently following Sazdo, and once they found him, they beat him up mercilessly in front of his girlfriend. The young man was hospitalized in critical condition, and died several days after the attack.

Luza, who was alleged to have family relations with powerful Albanian politicians, fled the country. Bela and Demiri were taken before court yesterday, in their Sverceri/Smugglers football team regalia. The judge sentenced them both to 19 years in prison for the brutal murder, while Sazdo’s parents looked on.

The sentencing immediately became a hot issue for Albanian politicians, whose 2017 Tirana platform called for the release of the group of ethnic Albanian Islamists who killed five Macedonians, four of them about Sazdo’s age, in the 2012 Good Friday massacre. The group was promptly released after Zoran Zaev was named Prime Minister. The platform also demanded a new investigation into the Albanian terrorist group which attacked the city of Kumanovo in 2015, killing eight police officers.
This intrusion of politics into the judiciary was on full display in the Parliament today. DUI party members of Parliament Ejup Alimi and Artan Grubi (Grubi himself has a history of involvement with violent Albanian football gangs and was famously fired as Dutch embassy adviser after being involved in a mass fight) dismissed the sentences against Sazdo’s murderers.

This raises alarm, we need to intervene in the judiciary. Thorough reforms of the entire judicial system are needed. This is a scandalous verdict, it is selective justice, Grubi said, pointing out to a case when an ethnic Macedonian killed an Albanian child with his car and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Not to be outdone, a similar response came from Muhamed Zekiri, deputy leader of the SDSM party and the leader of the SDSM Albanian wing. According to Zekiri, the sentences are excessive, but DUI should not take the spotlight in using the case to score political points. Zekiriturned on Alimi and Grubi for a share of the grievance mongering over the sentence.

Ejup Alimi and Artan Grubi are talking about justice or selective justice. That means it’s all gone to hell!!!, Zekiri wrote on Facebook, accusing DUI of being part of a coalition with the Macedonian VMRO-DPMNE party and of appointing judges during this time.

Zekiri also addressed allegations against him that he ordered the police raid on Tuesday afternoon to remove the head of the Islamic Community of Macedonia (IVZ). DUI came to the defense of the IVZ reis ul ulema Sulejman Rexhepi, against attempts to have him deposed.

IVZ is a separate story. Criminals defending criminals. DUI plays a transparent game on the IVZ issue. They failed to deliver what they promised at the elections. It’s good that the people don’t trust them or those EMBARASSEMENTS IN IVZ, Zekiri added.

The open in-fighting between DUI and the Albanian SDSM wing over the Sazdo trial and IVZ comes after the SDSM – DUI coalition saw a dramatic drop in support at the first round of the presidential elections, compared to the results they had in the 2017 municipal elections.