News 13 May 13

Macedonia Mass Murder Suspects’ Extradition Delayed

The extradition from Kosovo of two ethnic Albanians wanted in Macedonia for the killing of five people near Skopje may take a year, the lawyer for the suspects said.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Alil Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic | Photo by: Macedonian Interior Ministry

After more than two months of extradition procedures, the lawyer for the two suspects, Alil Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic, said that they will first have to stand trial for other crimes in Kosovo.

In May, the two face trial in Pristina for the illegal possession and trading of weapons, which were found during their arrest in Kosovo in March.

Authorities in both countries have not linked the found weapon with the mass murder near Skopje.

“One thing is certain. If they are found guilty for possession of weapons, they must first serve their sentence [in Kosovo] before being extradited to Macedonia,” Kosovo lawyer Besnik Berisha told reporters.

He said the trial of the two men in Kosovo could take up to one year and that, if convicted, they face jail for two to 10 years.

Kosovo police detained Demiri and Ismailovic in March. They are the last two of six ethnic Albanians wanted for the killings near the Macedonian capital in April 2012. A court in Pristina ordered them to be kept in detention.

The Macedonian prosecutor holds them responsible for the multiple killings known locally as the 'Monster' case. The four other are already on trial in Skopje on terrorism charges.

Macedonian authorities launched extradition proceedings almost immediately after the arrests in Kosovo and now say they have filed a complete extradition request.

“We have an extradition agreement with Kosovo that we are calling on, and it is now up to them. We are aware of all the circumstances but we are still optimistic that, if there is a will, the two could soon face justice in Macedonia,” a source in the Macedonian justice ministry told BIRN on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the trial in Skopje continues in the absence of the two wanted suspects.

The other defendants, Agim Ismailovic, Fejzi Aziri, Rami Sejdi and Haki Aziri, have all pleaded not guilty.

The four were held when police arrested 20 allegedly radical Muslims during an operation last May in several villages around the capital.

The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, were discovered on April 12 last year.

Their bodies had been lined up and appeared to have been executed. The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was found a short distance away from the rest.

News of the murder raised ethnic tensions, after groups of ethnic Macedonians staged protests, in some cases turning violent, blaming the killings on members of the country’s large Albanian minority community.

Although the trial in Skopje is nearing its end, sources at the Skopje criminal court have said that if the two recently-arrested suspects are extradited, proceedings might have to start again.

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