In the Skopje Criminal Court the trial will continue today for the five political prisoners who refused amnesty and 13 others whose requests were denied, over the April 2017 Parliament incident.

The defendants include opera singer Igor Durlovski, political activist Jane Cento – heir to the Cento family name, and former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov. These three, along with Dusko Lazarov and Igor Jug refused the offer of amnesty which was negotiated by the three former VMRO-DPMNE members of Parliament whose votes the Government needed to rename the country. These three – Ljuben Arnaudov, Saso Vasilevski and Krsto Mukoski, were released from prison in October in an apparently coordinated move between the judiciary and the Government when their votes were needed to begin the process of constitutional amendments, and they voted in the final push last week, after their amnesties were approved.

The group is charged with “terrorism”, after a large group of protesters entered the Parliament building, provoked by the irregular vote to elect a new Parliament Speaker.

Meanwhile, in another courthouse, the trial resumes for former Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska – Milevska, who is charged for abuse of office by the Special Prosecutor. Kanceska – Milevska also joined with the pardoned former VMRO-DPMNE members of Parliament and voted to rename the country, but did not receive an explicit pardon. The Government proposed changes to the Criminal Code which could let Kanceska – Milevska off the hook in this case, but they haven’t been adopted yet.