Even fighters for human rights are held responsible before the Law

Aleksandra M. Mitevska


Edmond Temelko, after two months spent in detention, leaves the detention center in “Shutka” and is moved to house arrest. The Criminal Court in Skopje revealed its decision this weekend. What remains unknown is the motive that was crucial for mitigating the measure to ensure the presence of Temelko during the trial against him, which emerged from the “bombs” of the former opposition.

Is the main reason for this really, is the deteriorating state of Temelko’s health, or did the judges give in under the political pressure for his release, which came mostly from VMRO-DPMNE? Or, perhaps, it was decisive for the council that Prime Minister Zoran Zaev sent from the parliamentary pulpit – to avoid the detention, except when it comes to murder or repetition of the crime. Temelko certainly does not fall into these categories, except that at one time an arrest warrant was issued for him because of the knowledge that, despite the ban, he crossed the state border.

On Sunday, the news that Temelko was leaving “Shutka” resulted in a delay, but not cancellation of the protest that the opposition party announced in Skopje. At that protest, Temelko was probably supposed to have been presented as a human rights fighter and a victim of political persecution, as shown in parliament, when Zaev was asked whether he felt responsible and that was because of a decision to detain the judiciary, which until recently pronounced such a measure almost without exception, was called “Svarowski”.
VMRO_DPMNE announced a protest “for justice and righteousness” next week, although, after Temelko was released, “Shutka” did not remain indicted for the cases raised by the Special Prosecutor’s Office. Of course, if the two refugees who were arrested in Greece and for which extradition is requested are not considered.
The title Titanic, one of the carriers of the tapes of wiretapped conversations, actually includes much larger political figures than the Mayor of Pustec, who grazed his neighbors from Mala Prespa through the polling places in the Macedonian capital during the previous local election, writing down twenty at one apartment address of thirty square meters. In that operation of electoral engineering and gigantic irregularities, according to the indictment of the SLI, the top officials in the then government cabinet of Nikola Gruevski were involved, starting with the ministers of interior and transport and communications to the head of the prime minister’s cabinet and the secretary of the government.
Out of all, Temelko was the only one who earned a detention and stayed in “Shutka” for 60 days. This is not a short period, but it definitely is not that long, compared to much longer detentions in the past year for a lot smaller crimes than participating in election irregularities. Then, the screams that came from many sides, and not only from the then opposition camp – that the detention was abused and that from the measure turned into punishment, they rarely touched the judges. This time however, the cry for the mayor’s disease reached the third authority.

Poor health condition should be a mitigating circumstance in determining the measures to secure the defendants in any case and for any defendant. The same is true for Temelko, although the public has no idea what his health issue is and whether if it’s true. On the other hand, for the mayor of Pustec, there cannot be any extenuating circumstances and “compliments” given by the current opposition, calling it a “political victim” and a “human rights’ fighter”. The recordings of the tapped conversations published by SDSM actually indicate that genuine political victims in the Titanic case are the manipulated “little people” of Pustec, who were previously given a role to sabotage a certain change of power in the municipality of Centar. If we agree that Temelko is indeed a fighter for human rights – it still does not pardon him from responsibility before the law. Even human rights fighters can be held responsible for (election) crime – if the court rules that they are guilty.