Justice Minister Bojan Maricic confirmed that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg is confronting the Macedonian Government over the persecution of political opponents during the past several years. Maricic initially tried to deny the fact that the ECHR has taken up several major cases, but now confirmed that the Government is preparing a strategy to defend its position.

The Government will remain committed to fighting for the rule of law. We are still in an early, initial stage of the procedure, and the state is a party in the case and needs to act appropriately, so I will not disclose details or our arguments and strategy, Maricic said.

At the core of the dispute is the fact that many of the victims of Zaev’s political persecution, mainly performed by the now disgraced Special Prosecutor’s Office, received presidential pardons in 2016. The pardons were later revoked under international pressure, but ECHR precedents say that a pardon, once given, can’t be revoked. A number of the defendants in cases initiated by SPO and its prosecutor Katica Janeva have since requested the ECHR to adjudicate the issue. The case is lead by Vladimir Ilievski, the husband of Gordana Jankuloska, who is one of the main victims of  the persecution.

Despite saying that the procedure is in an initial stage, Maricic then confirmed that Macedonia has just a few weeks to reach a settlement with the defendants. If no settlement can be reached, the ECHR is expected to go ahead and reach its own decision on the matter.