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In Pictures 06 May 16

Macedonians Mark Anniversary of Fatal Police Beating

Macedonian anti-government protestors marked the fifth anniversary of the brutal murder of a young man by a police officer which they claim the authorities tried to cover up.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Photo: Robert Atanasovski

Thousands of people gathered on Thursday evening on Skopje's main Macedonia square, where 21-year-old Martin Neskovski was beaten to death on June 6, 2011, when the ruling VMRO DPMNE party was celebrating its election victory. 

The protesters covered the square with giant red slogans like "You cannot hide murder, nor wash blood from your hands", "Justice for Martin, Freedom for All" and "Murderers".

They also dyed the water in the square’s fountains red and threw red paint balls at giant pictures of former prime minister and VMRO DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski and his former interior minister Gordana Jankuloska.

For nearly two days after Neskovski’s murder in 2011, the police denied the incident had happened but then changed their story amid growing protests, confirming the victim’s identity and claiming they had the murder suspect in custody. 

Igor Spasov, a member of a special police unit called the Tigers, was later sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Officials insisted that Spasov was not on duty at the time and so the police were not legally responsible for the murder.

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But wiretapped conversations released this time last year allegedly revealed that Gruevski's chief of security, Dejan Mitrevski Urko, called in Spasov that night, meaning that the authorities were responsible for his actions.

The tapes involving then interior minister Jankulovska, her spokesman Ivo Kotevski, the PM’s chief of staff Martin Protugjer, former secret police chief Saso Mijalkov and then premier Gruevski appeared to show a possible plot to pin the murder on the policemen alone and avoid responsibility falling on higher officials.

Thursday’s rally was part of the ongoing ‘Colourful Revolution’ anti-government demonstrations organised by the civic movement Protestiram (‘I Protest’).

Protestors, who were joined by Martin Neskovski's brother, also marked the one-year anniversary of the violence in Skopje that erupted after the release of the wiretaps.

During the unrest in 2015, police hunted down and arrested protesters who were outraged by what they heard on the tapes. Human rights NGOs accused the police of using overwhelming force.

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