A new hearing is scheduled in the Skopje Court in the re-trial of the Islamist group which killed four young ethnic Macedonians and an adult man in 2012, on the eve of Good Friday, in an apparent attempt to begin another civil war in the country.

Kire Trickovski, Filip Slavkovski, Cvetanco Ackovski, Aleksandar Nakevski and Borce Stefanovski were killed near the Smilkovsko lake just north of Skopje. Three ethnic Albanian Muslims – Alil Demiri and the brothers Afrim and Agim Ismailovic were sentenced in the murders, as were a number of their helpers. Afrim Ismailovic and Alil Demiri fled to Kosovo, while those of the group who were sentenced, were released in December 2017, when the Supreme Court ordedred a retrial, and all were released from detention.

Ethnic Albanian parties, which prop up the Zoran Zaev Government, demanded a new investigation in the case and pushed for the release of the Islamist cell as part of their list of conditions for forming the Government. The case is led by judge Ognen Stavrev, son of one of the powerful Communist regime leaders in Macedonia, who was recently named by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski as one of the most loyal Zaev supporters in the judiciary. The opposition VMRO-DPMNE party has accused the Zaev Government of subverting the judiciary to its political needs – ordering politically motivated arrests of VMRO officials and releasing criminals who come from the other political side.