Skopje’s appeal court granted a re-trial of Hisen Musliu, a former police employee, sentenced to three months in jail for fabricating secret police files naming senior Macedonian politicians as spies.
|Skopje's court building | Photo by: Balkan Insight|
The court ruled that the first instance verdict was “unclear” concerning “ the precise criminal act perpetrated by the defendant”.
The court ordered a re-trial in two weeks time, and asked for proof that the original files code-named “Mama”, “Archer”, ”Uncle” and “Ibar” existed.
“If such documents do not exist, a person cannot be accused of the forgery of photocopied documents,” the appeal court said.
Photocopies of the alleged police files arrived in 2010 at the address of the Lustration Commission, a body tasked with removing former secret police informants from public office.
The case has caused considerable controversy among the public.
The files named several high-ranking officials from the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, as former police informants.
The latter named Ali Ahmeti, the head of the DUI, as a spy for both the Yugoslav and the Serbian intelligence services in the 1980s and 1990s.
The party denied all the allegations and in October 2010, the commission refused to analyse the four files, written in Serbian, on the grounds that they were photocopies. All four contained stamps of the Serbian intelligence service.
The Macedonian police arrested Musliu in November 2010 and he was later sentenced for allegedly adding forged data to the original files, including a picture of Ali Ahmeti that he allegedly planted inside.
Musliu’s lawyer, Stevan Pavleski expressed his satisfaction with the ruling of the appeal court.
“We have been pointing out all along that there can be no criminal act if there are no secret police files. Now the prosecution must either provide the files or follow the appeal court’s instructions and abandon the prosecution” says Pavleski, who is aformer Macedonian public prosecutor.
Musliu, who at the time of his arrest was an advisor to Menduh Thaci, the head of the opposition party, the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, insists that he received the documents from an unknown person and handed them over to the authorities unaltered.
“I am not a computer expert, and would not have been able to scan and alter the documents. The trial against me is politically motivated. They condemned me to three months in jail, and despite my weak health I have already spent two months in detention,” Musliu says.
Meanwhile, Menduh Thaci is suing his bitter political rival, the DUI leader Ali Ahmeti for telling the media last year that “Thaci’s party stands behind the publication of the files”.
Last week, Ahmeti did not appear at the trial and new session was set for the end of June.
Following the practice of many former Communist countries, Macedonia introduced a lustration law in 2008 in order to purge its public administration of former spies.
But since then many observers and the opposition have lost confidence in the lustration process, and suspect that is being used to politically discredit opponents.