News 20 Nov 12

Macedonia Ex-Minister Dismisses Spy Claims

Former Culture Minister Gjuner Ismail rubbishes Lustration Commission claims that he collaborated with the old Yugoslav secret services, adding that he will not appeal the decision as he is ignoring the Commission.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Gjuner Ismail

The Commission for the Verification of Facts, a state office tasked with carrying out a controversial lustration law, on Monday said it would publish documents proving that Ismail was a former police collaborator.

He was pronounced a former police collaborator on Friday. The Lustration Commission voted six to three in favour of the motion. Two abstained.

Ismail was culture minister in Branko Crvenkovski's Social Democrat-led government from 1994-1998.

The ex-minister said he was unfazed. “I ignore the Commission and its work. It does not verify facts but interprets them. This is just one more proof that the government is afraid of me... and they should be afraid,” he said.

Ismail said he had no intention of appealing against the decision before a court, as he holds the entire lustration process illegitimate.

In July he was among a group of intellectuals who filed lawsuits against legislators in the Macedonian parliament who supported the recently adopted Lustration Law. The group described the law as unconstitutional.

The group of intellectuals, part of the Citizens for European Macedonia, GEM, sued the legislators for “non-compliance with a decision of the Constitutional Court”.

Macedonia followed in the steps of many former Communist states that enacted lustration laws to address past injustices stemming from politically motivated judicial proceedings.

After the Constitutional Court in March scrapped 12 controversial provisions of the previous Lustration law, adopted in 2008, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party passed a new, more narrowly focused lustration law in June.

In March, the Court had ruled that it was unconstitutional to oblige people from a wide range of professions, including clergy, journalists, NGO activists and others, to swear that they had not collaborated with the secret police either during the Communist period or afterwards.

It also shortened the time span of the law that was previously applicable until 2019. The Court ruled that that it may cover only the Communist period from 1945 to 1991 and not the period after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia and became a democratic society.

But critics of the new law say it still violates people's constitutional rights.

The Macedonian lustration process has been marred by controversy from the start, with opposition groups and human rights watchdogs claiming that the law was being misused to target government critics.

The government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on the other hand claims that it intends only to rectify the injustices of the past.

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