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18 Jun 07

Macedonian Journalists Demand Higher Damages in Tapping Case

Skopje_ After winning a wiretapping case against the Macedonian government last week, the journalists intend to appeal for higher damages, their lawyer, Dimitar Dangov, told Balkan Insight on Monday.

A court on Friday found that the cellular phones of 17 journalists were illegally tapped and ordered the Interior Ministry and Macedonia’s Telecom company to pay a total of 100,000 euros, or almost 6,000 euros to each journalist.

The court ordered the ministry and Makedonski Telekomunikacii to split the cost for the damages as both institutions were proven to own wiretapping equipment.

However, Dangov told Balkan Insight that the sum they had been awarded in damages was far less than what his clients had hoped for.

“The journalists demanded at least 180,000 euros each for psychological distress and for the way the case was prolonged over seven years,” he said. “An appeal will follow in fifteen days after the court verdict, as the law allows.”

The scandal, which the media called “The Big Ear,” was revealed to parliament in 2000 by the then opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski, who is now the country’s President.

The transcripts were made in 1999 and 2000 by the police acting under the orders of Dosta Dimovska, then interior minister in a previous centre-right government. She was later given a presidential pardon.

To this day, no member of the former government has faced trial in relation to the affair.

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