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News 20 Oct 17

Amnesty Plea for Crowd That Stormed Macedonia's Parliament

After Macedonia's former ruling party called for all those involved in the April 27 storming of parliament to receive an amnesty - members of the current government and legal experts have condemned the proposal.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
VMRO DPMNE's central committee member Orce Gjorgjievski at a press conferrence in Skopje. Photo: VMRO DPMNE

Ruling party MPs, legal experts and political observers have condemned an opposition demand for all those involved in the April 27 storming of parliament which left some 100, including MPs, injured, to receive an amnesty.

The former ruling VMRO DPMNE party, which was ousted from power in May, weeks after its supporters stormed parliament, attacking MPs, on Thursday said an amnesty would help the process of political reconciliation.

"For several years, Macedonia has been in a tense political situation, which reflects badly on all social aspects. VMRO DPMNE wants to contribute towards the relaxation of these political tensions and to reconciliation among the citizens," a party central committee member, Orce Gjorgjievski, said on Thursday.

He said the party would soon file an amnesty motion in parliament, although it "sympathizes with the injured MPs and is against violence".

The initiative came after police earlier this week apprehended five, and later three more people, suspected of involvement in the rampage and in an attempt to kill MP Zijadin Sela.

Former Constitutional Court head Trendafil Ivanovski said that the call for an amnesty for such a serious case was paradoxical, and would undermine the authority of an already shaken legal system.

"There are people in this case who directly committed attacks in parliament. Although it is not yet legally clear whether this was an attempted coup, it is clear that people are being charged with attempted murder," Ivanovski noted.

MPs were attacked on April 27 when VMRO DPMNE supporters stormed the parliament. Photo: Anadolu

Political analyst and former MP Naser Ziberi said the demand for an amnesty showed that VMRO DPMNE was now indirectly admitting its role in the events – and was trying to prevent the investigation from reaching the people who possibly organized or gave the orders for the violent attack.

"Otherwise, what would VMRO DPMNE's motive be, to get involved in the process of shedding light on the events in parliament?" Ziberi asked Radio Free Europe.

The angry crowd stormed the parliament building in Skopje after a majority of 67 of the 120 MPs elected a new speaker from the ranks of the opposition, Talat Xhaferi.

The speaker's election paved the way for the establishment of the new Social Democrat-led government, marking the end of VMRO DPMNE's 11 years in power.

So far, courts have issued only two court verdicts in relation to the attack. In May, nine people were given mild probation sentences for "participation in a violent crowd".

On October 12, another man was jailed for four years for attacking the then MP and current Defence Minister Radmila Sekerinska. Other people have been arrested and await trial.

But the prosecution has not yet questioned VMRO DPMNE MPs Krsto Mukoski and Saso Vasilevski, who were spotted on security footage opening the doors of the parliament building to the angry crowd.

The prosecution also has not questioned the then police chief, Mitko Cavkov, who unaccountably waited two hours after the rampage started before sending reinforcements.

The then opposition, now ruling, Social Democrats, whose MPs, including the leader and current Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, were the main targets of the attack, have rejected the proposition for an amnesty.

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