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News 25 Aug 17

Macedonian Fined for Offending Erdogan on Facebook

In an unusual and potentially disturbing verdict, a court in Skopje has fined a Macedonian citizen for offending Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Facebook.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: beta

The Skopje Criminal Court sentenced "L.A". who holds dual, Macedonian and Turkish citizenship to a 400-euro fine which could be turned into a prison sentence if the fine is not paid, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

The verdict says the accused was found guilty of having "published ironic statements and directed insults towards the leader of a foreign country".

The indictment, raised by the Turkish Embassy in Skopje in late 2016, read that the indicted person, "on his own profile on one social network, has done harm to the image of the Republic of Turkey and to its President Erdogan".

Macedonia and Turkey traditionally have good ties, partly because of the considerable size of the ethnic Turkish community in the country.

However, in January,  Turkey scrapped a mutual diploma acceptance agreement with Macedonia after the authorities in Skopje failed to close schools and organisations suspected of links to the exiled alleged coup plotter, Fethullah Gulen.

Fining people for their remarks on social networks is not common in Macedonia.

The first such case happened in 2012 when the court in the central town of Veles issued a symbolic probation fine of 100 euros against the organizer of a cultural event for attacking a reporter on social networks.

The person was ordered to pay the fine - but only if he repeated the same offence over the course of the next two years.

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