Patriots welcomed the accused of terrorist threat to the constitutional order and security in front of the Criminal Court building with patriotic songs, zurlas and drums, and the Vergina flag. Before the trial started, a group of citizens with slogans in their hands gathered in front of the new court building and with ovations they greeted the defendants for the intrusion in the Parliament one by one, as they arrived.
Part of the slogans they were carrying read “Prosecuting artists and members of parliament as terrorists is the disgrace of the century”, “Macedonian patriots are prosecuted by a participant in the Colorful Revolution, Vilma Ruskovska (a colorful prosecutor). Exemption and Resignation”, Freedom for Our Patriot Brothers “,”Je Suis Krsto”. The group shouted “We are ethnic Macedonians”, and “This is the flag of Macedonia”.
The group that came out to support the defendants included Sotir Kostov, his wife who for years worked as a protocol in the team of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Professor Ivanka Vasilevska. None of the current and former leadership of VMRO-DPMNE attended the rally, except the former MP Aleksandar Spasenovski could be seen in the back during the protest.
Among the first to arrive was former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov, who entered the court free with his lawyer Saso Dukovski. After Cavkov, dressed in a suit, arrived opera singer Igor Durlovski, who was also released to defend himself.
MPs Krsto Mukoski, Saso Vasilevski and Ljuben Arnaudov, who were brought from house arrest, were also greeted with ovations. Johan Tarculovski has been released to defend himself and his attorney is once again Antonio Apostolski, the lawyer who defended him in The Hague. Then MP Ljupco Dimovski arrived. The leaders of the association “For United Macedonia”, Bogdan Ilievski, director Boris Damovski and actor Vlado Jovanovski, who received the loudest applause from the audience, were also brought from house arrest.
The trial started with half an hour of delay. The courtroom in the new Criminal court gathered thirty-three people accused of violent storming in the Assembly, their lawyers, journalists and members of their families.
Judge Dobrila Kacarska began the main hearing on this case, and in the beginning showed decisiveness that the hearing will not be delayed due to the lawyers’ complaints. A second judge in this case is Darko Todorovski, the judge who pronounced the acquittal of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. In this trial, Kacarska has an additional judge, Slavica Andreevska and additional jury judges, and has scheduled 37 hearings until November.
Outside the court as the main hearing began, zurlas and drums were still played loudly, and some of the relatives as they entered the courtroom shouted “Death or freedom”.
Representatives of the indictment are prosecutors Vilma Ruskovska and Gordana Smakoska from the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and Corruption.
A total of 33 people sat on the defendant’s bench, 11 in detention, 13 in house arrest, and the rest have precautionary measures or are released with a guarantee.
At the forefront of the courtroom are the MPs and the former leadership of the Ministry of Interior, and in the last lines, Aleksandar Vasilevski – Ninja, Nikola Mitrovski – Kolio together with the organizers of the “For United Macedonia” initiative.
For more than three hours, the lawyers of the defendants sought to postpone the trial because they did not receive all the evidence and accused the prosecution of either selectively providing evidence or failing to provide them at all.
The prosecutors claimed that during the legal deadline of the defense, the lawyers were free to inspect all records and evidence.
These allegations annoyed the judge and she told the present that this is a big and difficult case that is quite current and which is closely followed by both the Macedonian and the international public.
“Do not make the working conditions worse, because this is a difficult subject and my tolerance has a threshold, and the court hearings will last as long as the court has decided to work during the scheduled hearings. I have no intention of telling anyone, or making deals with anyone about how long the court hearings will last,” said Kacarska.
After the lunch break that Kacarska granted, she announced that the demands of the lawyers had been rejected and that the trial would continue even after the working hours of the court. Kacarska has a scheduled hearing for this case almost daily, and according to initial impressions, the judge wants to finish this case as soon as possible.
The incursion in the assembly took place on April 27 of last year. An organized group of citizens, some of them masked with balaclavas, entered the Parliament and physically attacked everyone in sight. MPs from SDSM were injured, who were part of the then-opposition, a journalist, and a member of the Alliance of Albanians Zijadin Sela was saved from certain death.
Cavkov is accused that even though he knew that the lives of the journalists the MPs were under threat in the Parliament, he did not issue an order for the deployment of additional and special police forces. The accused MPs opened the doors to the Parliament for the enraged citizens, and the organizers of the protests held violence-provoking speeches.
However, the support in front of the Criminal Court was dispersed within hours of the trial. Only a few stayed under the hot summer sun.
Frosina Fakova – Serafinovic