The agony of the wrongly convicted

Gjorgji Spasov

With the decision of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office to withdraw the indictment for the Sopot case, the sentences of 12 people from the village of Sopot near Kumanovo were abolished. According to the prosecution, they were wrongly convicted of placing a mine under a vehicle, which killed three people in the blast in March 2003.

The six convicted in this case were detained that year and went through court mazes, and spent 15 years in prison.
On this occasion, we should recall that the detainees were convicted on the basis of false testimony extorted by a witness with torture and life threats by the police.

Faced with the inability to find the real culprit for a terrorist act that killed two KFOR contingent members from Poland, the police and the investigation proceeded to invent the culprits, using extorted “evidence” just to demonstrate their “ability and success” in addressing such cases.
The then prosecutor’s office that handles the case before the Kumanovo court demands the most severe punishments for “perpetrators of the crime” and the 12 defendants, were sentenced to a total of 150 years imprisonment in various procedures.

In 2006, the government changed, and then again in 2008. Public prosecutors were also changing, but the appeals procedure of the convicts was dragged on until March 2010, although the Appellate court found procedural inconsistencies, it confirmed the first instance verdict. That year, an inquiry commission of the Parliament of Macedonia was considering the case “Sopot” and on the basis of new evidence of false testimony, the competent judicial authorities decide the court procedures against the defendants to merge in one case, and to be tried again in the first instance procedure.
Innocent convicts in the Sopot case remain in prison, hoping that their innocence will be proven in the repeated trial that begins in 2011, but which, due to the slowness of our judiciary, with various excuses, did not end in 2017.

In 2011, a new government of VMRO and DUI was formed and an amnesty was announced for the Hague cases related to the NLA command responsibility for “Mavrovo workers”, “Neprosteno” motel Brioni, and the abductees during the conflict, but the villagers from Sopot remained in jail. And even after the announcement of Zaev’s bombs, it becomes clear that it is a classic case of framed guilt by the police and the judiciary for acts that were not committed by the convicted.

From Zaev’s bombs, we heard a conversation between Jankulovska and Mijalkov, led after the 2011 election victory, in which they admit that the court does not have evidence for the committed act by the defendants, that the persons in this trial are charged on the basis of extorted false evidence with the help of torture, and thinking that “for VMRO to satisfy its partner in the DUI government,” it was good for defendants to be first convicted in a retrial from the “independent judiciary” and then released through pardon – for the state not to pay damages.

After the public heard that conversation in 2015, civil protests against such police court seats rose, and the newly established Special Public Prosecutor’s Office asked for jurisdiction over that case.
But the prosecution for the prosecution of organized crime – which was still at the time led by Jovan Ilievski, who became a judge at the International Court of Human Rights, and whose jurisdiction was the “Sopot” case, then instead of giving the case to the SPO, decided to give it forwarded to the decision of the Council for Public Prosecutors chaired by Petar Anevski and in which State Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski was a member.
The aggrieved Petar Anevski then stated that the SPO was not competent for the case, but only for the cases of wiretapped talks conducted from 2008-2015. By doing so, the Council of Public Prosecutors continued the ill-treatment of the convicts. Only in July 2017, after the expulsion of VMRO from the government, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office solved the case “Sopot” being handed over to the SPO.

From then until March 18 of this year, the renewed trial was postponed with the most detailed explanations, as well as many other judiciary processes, so that the SPO could finally announce that it withdrew the indictment for the defendants, explaining that there is no evidence to prove the obituary for them, after which they were released.

Now the question arises as to whether, as a society, we will allow a clear case of deliberately inalienable guilt to pass only as “the usual and possible mistake of the judiciary and the police.”
Whether the persons who have first and last names and who in this particular case have extorted false evidence with torture used false witnesses to prosecute and convict, prosecute and condemn persons for the most severe punishment without sufficient evidence, they can continue “to do their jobs” as police inspectors, prosecutors and judges?

The release of innocent persons after a long police-jury agony is not a victory of justice over injustice.
Victory of justice would be when each of those who contributed to it and such things happen would be brought to justice and convicted, in order never to be repeated.

As long as this does not happen, nothing essentially will change and none of us is safe. It may soon be found out that there was no evidence of guilt and convictions in the “Monster” case for the murdered people near Smilkovo Lake, as it has proven that there was no guilt for many who were sentenced and lustrated in Macedonia on various grounds. And all the perpetrators of the injustices in the past should be held accountable and pay all the court expenses from their own pocket.

Justice in Macedonia began to arise when Zoran Zaev started publishing “The Truth about Macedonia” through so-called ‘bombs’ when civil and multiethnic anti-crime and injustice were born, and when the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office was created under that pressure.
Hence, VMRO DPMNE’s claim that this release of innocent people is a proof of “implementing the Tirana Platform” by Zaev through the SPO is completely meaningless. If so, those who oppose the implementation of such a platform are against justice and righteousness.
Macedonia must not allow the citizens to lose their feeling of justice and civic solidarity.