News 07 Jun 11

Macedonians Protest Over 'Fatal Police Beating'

Several hundred protestors gathered in downtown Skopje on Tuesday to express their outrage over the death of a young man who died after being beaten by a policeman on Sunday.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje

The protestors, who organised the rally via Facebook, called on Police Minister Gordana Jankulovska to take responsibility for investigating the killing of the young man on Sunday night.

They accused the police of trying to cover up the killing, as well as for past cases of excessive use of force and intimidation.

“The police brutality must end, They have the brute force but we are resilient and determined to put a stop to this,” one protestor told Balkan Insight.

Facing increasing pressure, the police on Tuesday afternoon held a press conference and said they had identified the boy who was killed on Sunday as 22-year-old Martin Neskovski from Skopje.
 
They said that the suspect, a 33-year-old policeman and member of the special police unit “Tigers”, turned himself in to his boss on Monday and is now in custody.

“We have the suspect in our custody and the police are currently holding informative talks with him,” police spokesman Ivo Kotevski told media.

He said that the forensic examination of the boy’s body determined that “he probably had died a violent death”, and that police were “listing the case as a murder investigation”.

The beating reportedly took place on Sunday around midnight near Skopje’s central Macedonia Square, during the peak of the political celebrations after the ruling VMRO DPMNE party declared victory in the general elections held that day.

“I was sitting when I saw a police officer, a member of the special forces, chasing a young boy. The boy tripped over a wire and fell," one witness told local NetPress news agency on Monday.

"The member of the special unit started beating him all over and the boy did not resist,” he added.

The witness said that the police officer then attempted to resuscitate the young man. After five minutes, the witness said that the policeman's colleagues came and dragged the boy’s body towards a nearby building several hundred metres away from the square.

Other eyewitnesses told NetPress that they saw the same boy covered in black plastic bag lying in front of the building. They said the body was surrounded by police officers.

News of the killing, initially published by NetPress news agency, quickly spread through social networks, sparking outrage and calls for protests on Facebook. Hundreds of protestors on Monday, mostly young people, gathered in dowtown Skopje asking for an investigation into the police's role.

Anger over the apparent killing was additionally fueled by the silence from police, who initially said no such incident has been reported.

Explaining why the police did not identify the deceased young man earlier and inform the public about what happened, Kotevski said on Tuesday that the police had waited to identify the victim,  by his finger prints.


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