Non-amnestied defendants expect to be released by the court

The defendants in the April 27 violence in the Parliament, who did not ask for amnesty, or weren’t granted amnesty, see their last hope for justice in the trial council headed by Judge Dobrila Kacarska. All of them argued that the prosecution had no evidence of a crime with which they were charged “terrorist endangerment to the constitutional order and security”. The most striking was the closing argument of the opera singer and defendant Igor Durlovski, and defendant Jane Cento who addressed the court with respect, dressed in suits. Durlovski is confident that the prosecution does not have any evidence to support the allegations that before the storming the Parliament he was holding a provocative speech, but also for the claim that he gambled with the interests of the state, not for patriotic reasons, but for money. He claims that on April 27 he sang the national anthem before the government, and that afterwards he and his son went to a handball match. When the crowd stormed the Parliament, they were in front of the sports hall Jane Sandanski. He returned to the Parliament when he saw that the people have stormed it.
“Although I want to scream at the top of my lungs how grotesque it is, how disgusting it is that they claim I was paid to protest, when you decide on my fate, even if I am the most immoral person who is protesting for money and lying to tens of thousands of citizens, please ask whether there is evidence that I participated in the organization, that I knew anything about what was to happen in Parliament,” Durlovski said.

He did not seek amnesty because he was brave, but because he was confident that there was no evidence against him. “I believed and still believe in the cause. I was afraid and I am still afraid that the state stole my fatherland. You may or may not agree with me, you may be repulsed by me, but you cannot condemn me. You have a lot of responsibility and I hope to convince you that I am not a criminal that needs to be sent to jail. And at this very moment, when you are about to make the decision, the people are divided into ours and theirs. But in this courtroom we are all equal, regardless of everyone’s stance. I want to believe that decisions here are only made on the basis of evidence,” Durlovski said.

Defendant Jane Cento, who is held in detention, had a similar rhetoric, but a much longer address. He returned at the start of the trial, which he called a “media show” and referred to the closing argument of the Prosecutor Vilma Ruskovska, that is, the part in which Ruskovska criticized the amnesty law which, according to her, created a sense of impunity.

“Is there any greater violence from the opening of the doors to an angry crowd? Why the prosecution did not give a negative opinion on the amnesty,” said Cento, and also sent a message that “only the court could make the decision, not the political elites”.

He revealed that the prosecution offered him witness protection if he falsely testified. “I waited for 16 months to say this. I was offered to be a protected witness, but for this I had to read my testimony from a sheet of paper, written in advance. Otherwise, as they told me, I will regret it. I refused the false testimony and one month later I was arrested,” said Cento.

In his address, he talked about the patriotic associations that, according to him, held a meeting in Veles in March 2017, and then he also called by the director of the UBK to whom, said Cento, he explained that they are not paramilitaries, but were formed according to the law.
The director told him to meet with Aleksandar Vasilevski Ninja, Cento met him and told him the same, and Ninja told him that there shouldn’t be any provocation in the protests.

But on April 27, Cento claimed he did not talk to Ninja on the phone, or had any connection with the UBK.

“I ran from the UBK like I would run from the devil,” says Cento. Therefore, he emphasized that he refused a job offer there when he left his job in the Government and returned to work in Prilep.

Closing arguments were also given by the rest of the defendants, former Intelligence Agency intelligence officer Munir Pepic and the Parliament’s security guard Abdulfeta Alimi.

Pepic said he was not part of any terrorist association, but he was officially in the Parliament as an intelligence agent.

“I did not attack anyone. You can see in the video recordings that I did not attack any of the MPs. I withdrew when I assessed that I my job there is done, said Pepic. He added that he informed the Intelligence Agency about the events in the Parliament and actively assisted the rescuing of the MPs.

Defendant Alimi emphasized that everything he had done on April 27 was approved by his superiors. He emphasized that he gave Goran Gosevski-Levi the keys to the doors because he did not know why he was asking for them.

“That day I was the only one in the Parliament and I helped everyone, said Alimi. The Law on Amnesty passed by the MPs halved the number of defendants for the storming in the Parliament. The first to be granted amnesty were the MPs who were charged with opening the doors to Parliament. Some of them subsequently voted for the constitutional changes that were needed to implement the Prespa Agreement with Greece to change the country’s constitutional name.

(FFS)