Criminal law professor Gordan Kalajdziev, who is an outspoken supporter of the SDSM party, acknowledged that President Gjorge Ivanov has the right to issue pardons without involving the Justice Ministry in the process, including in the case of the political prisoners sentenced in the April 2017 court case.

The SDSM led Government told Ivanov that if he gives pardons to those sentenced in the numerous politically motivated cases, the Justice Ministry will refuse to cooperate in the process, effectively denying the President his right to give pardons without the approval of the Government.

The President had the right to issue pardons without involvement of the Justice Ministry. In 2016, the law was amended and this right was taken from the President, but later the Constitutional Court declared the changes to the law as unconstitutional. This has now raised the issue whether the decision of the Court restores the law in its previous form, or creates a void in this area.
According to Kalajdziev, the Court itself considers that it has restored the President’s prerogative.

The opinions of the legal experts are divided. Most of us believe that this Article 11 can not be restored. But what is important here is that the Constitutional Court believes that the article is restored to the law, and so does the Parliament. In a normal country, and we should aspire to be such, the position of the Constitutional Court on constitutional matters should be seen as the last word, regardless whether law professors like it or not, Kalajdziev said.

President Ivanov received a request for pardons from the 16 political prisoners in the April 2017 case, who were sentenced to long prison sentences under the charge of “terrorism”. The Zaev led majority in Parliament negotiated amnesties for several of the members of Parliament who were charged, in exchange for their votes in favor of renaming Macedonia into “North Macedonia”. This selective amnesty is an additional argument in favor of President Ivanov pardoning all the victims of this political show trial.