The lengthy politically driven trial over the April 2017 incident in the Parliament is expected to conclude today with sentencing for the charged officials and activists who did not receive or refused the offer of pardons. More than 100 years are expected to be handed by judge Dobrila Kacarska, on request of prosecutor Vilma Ruskoska, both seen as doing the bidding of the SDSM led Government in the case which was used to blackmail members of Parliament and force them to vote to rename Macedonia into “North Macedonia”.
Three members of Parliament – Krsto Mukoski, Saso Vasilevski and Ljuben Arnaudov, who were charged with “terrorism” in the case, received pardons after agreeing to vote in favor of changing the name of the country. Several other opposition members of Parliament also received pardons even though they refused to vote the way the Government requested them to. Several of the organizers of the protest which turned violent when the protesters were provoked by SDSM and their DUI coalition partner which staged an irregular vote for a new Parliament Speaker, received pardons, but the most prominent of them – opera singer Igor Durlovski, refused the offer and will receive his sentence for “terrorism” today. Durlovski and the other organizers – director Boris Damovski, actor Vlado Jovanovski and social media personality Bogdan Ilievski shared a photograph with a comment “brother for life” before the expected sentencing.
Other prominent individuals charged in the case include former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov, who was detained several days before the sentencing – his third revenge detention ordered by the Government of Zoran Zaev, who he once once investigated for corruption. Cavkov was also instrumental in the police action against the Albanian terrorist group which attacked the city of Kumanovo in 2015. He is now detained in the Shutka prison, which is openly controlled by members of the group, who recently attacked two other former ministers – Mile Janakieski and Spiro Ristovski, when they were detained there.
Even as the trial was nearing its end, Ruskoska expanded the list of those charged with “terrorism” to include former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, former Speaker Trajko Veljanoski who was deposed by SDSM and DUI and Janakieski and Ristovski.
Those who refused amnesty also include Jane Cento, the heir to the family name of Macedonian World War Two commander and first President Metodija Andonov – Cento, who was also persecuted by the Communist regime after the war. Jane Cento was recently also attacked in prison, by prison guards.
Since taking over the Government, Zaev staged a series of other high profile trials of political opponents, but this case is by far the largest, given the number of defendants and its political ramifications. Other prisoners include police officials who are charged with not being able to prevent the chaotic situation in the Parliament which developed when SDSM and DUI staged the vote deliberately at a time when a mass protest was going on, as well as a dozen of the protesters.