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News 31 May 13

Macedonians Protest Over Journalist's Arrest

Macedonian journalists on Friday protested in front of the Skopje criminal court, demanding release of the journalist Tomislav Kezarovski.

 
Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Carrying banners reading “Freedom for Kezarovski,” “Who is Next?” and “What is the Cost of Freedom?”, about a hundred Macedonian journalists on Friday signed a petition demanding an explanation for his arrest.

Special police arrested Kezarovski in his home town of Veles on Wednesday in relation to a murder case from 2005.

Kezarovski is accused of revealing the identity of a protected witness in the case in an article that he wrote in 2008 for the newspaper Reporter 92.

The article raised suspicions that the defendants in the case, who have all since been released, were framed.

He was paraded in handcuffs in front of the cameras as he was led to and from the court, which ordered 30 days of detention.

“Kezarovski has been arrested for protecting the public interest and for revealing a false witness. This interest is more important than protecting the identity of a false witness,” Petrit Saracini, from the Macedonian Institute for Media, said.

“Kezarovski has acted professionally, respecting the journalistic code and revealing facts in a case where innocent people risked being jailed,” Saracini said.

The association of Macedonian Journalists, ZNM, the Independent Journalist’s Union, SSNM, and the Macedonian Institute for Media, MIM, all backed the protest, describing the arrest of a journalist in this manner as unprecedented.

The second largest journalists’ association, the Macedonian Association of Journalists, MAN, also condemned the arrest.

“MAN deems his incarceration inappropriate. He is being treated as a criminal without a final verdict,” MAN said in a statement.

In 2008, police said they had uncovered the suspects behind the 2005 murder of 57-year-old Lazar Milosevski in the village of Orese near Veles.

Two brothers, Ordan and Ljupco Gjorgievski, were charged as perpetrators while Gjorge Petrovski, who was then extradited from the United States, was charged with ordering the murder.

But in a spectacular twist, this February the former protected witness, Zlatko Arsovski, admitted false testimony against the defendants, saying he acted under threats from the police.

“They threatened to charge me for everything that had happened in Orese. So, I had to sign everything that was put on paper… I had to memorize the statement and repeat everything to the prosecution and to the investigative judge,” Arsovski told a court in Skopje.

The sensational admission resulted in release of the defendants who had claimed all along that a police inspector had framed them out of revenge.

Adding to the confusion, while Kezarovski is charged with revealing the identity of a protected witness in the article from 2008, the witness himself told the court in February that he only became a protected witness in January 2010.


 

 

 

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