Protected witness recognizes three defendants in courtroom

The protected witness, who was interrogated in the Basic Court Skopje 1 via camera from another room with a modified voice for the five-time murder at Smilkovo Lake in 2012 in the case of “Monster” of the SPO, recognized three men out of four present defendants.
The witness said that he saw Fejzi Aziri, Agim Ismailovic and Sami Ljuta at the site from 30 cm to 30 m distance, on several occasions, every day before the killings took place, and whom he described today directly and pointed them to the courtroom. The bearded person that he also saw on several occasions was not present in the courtroom, the witness said.
Examined by the SPO prosecutor, Fatime Fetai, he said he had learned about the event from media reports and he had reported himself to the police ‘out of moral reasons’ in order to tell investigators everything he knew.
The witness told the court that three-four days before the event he had seen four people with a black Volkswagen Golf that had tinted windows; a dark tall man, a man with a scar of his left side, a bold man, a man in his 50s and a man in his mid-30s.
“They acted like normal people,” he said when asked how they had been behaving adding that the last time he had seen them was on April 12.
The witness said that he had been summoned by the prosecution for an eyewitness identification through photos noting that he hadn’t been subject to pressure and threat.
Fetai asked the witness whether he recognized someone from the crime scene that were present in the courtroom today. He said he recognized several men and described them. He said he ‘100%’ recognized the man with the scar in the courtroom.
Furthermore, the defense lawyer said the protected witness provided ‘confusing’ answers during cross examination and thus he doubted the credibility of his testimony. The lawyer said the first verdict in the Monster case had been based on his testimony. The verdict was revoked by the Supreme Court before ordering re-trial.
Opening today’s hearing, special prosecutor Fetai requested the court open a procedure for the extradition of defendants Afrim Ismailovic and Alil Demiri, who have fled to Kosovo. An international warrant for their arrest has been issued by Macedonian authorities.
Judge Ognen Stavrev said the court had been in contact with Kosovo authorities involving the extradition procedure.
The so called Monster case involves the murder of four teenagers and a fisherman on Smilkovsko Lake on 12 April 2012 near Skopje. Six men were tried on terrorism charges and were sentenced to a life in prison.
In December 2017, the Supreme Court revoked the verdicts and released four men from detention. After the verdict were revoked, the case was taken over by the SPO and a re-trial was ordered.
The protected witness will be cross-examined by the special prosecution and the defense at a resumption of the trial scheduled on Friday.