Tomislav Kezarovski – A Journalist Who Became a Story Itself


 

Tomislav Kezarovski sentenced to 4,5 years in prison
Police officers accompanied a handcuffed journalist Tomislav Kezarovski outside the Primary Court Skopje 1 in Skopje. The Criminal Court Council sentenced Kezarovski to more than 4 years in prison in first instance. According to decision announced on October 21, 2013 Kezarovski published a name of witness protected./ Oct.21, 2013 Photo by Aleksandra Dukovska

4:00 p.m. CEST Lates Update: November 7, 2013 5: 19 p.m. CEST

SKOPJE I Republic of Macedonia: When a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski wrote and followed a story on murder crime five years ago and allegedly disclosed protected witness, he could not imagine his writing could lead to more serious consequences after prosecution in Macedonia decided to investigate the case again upon request from the police, as he faces up to four years in prison if convicted on the charges of alleged disclosure of protected witness.

The law enforcement investigation brought a journalist Kezarovski, who wrote the story to become the story himself at the moment police arrested him at almost two months ago. Even though it is not unknown for a journalist to center stage a story, it was very peculiar that a journalist in Macedonia could face detention because of a written article in Macedonia.

What a journalist Kezarovski can expect in facing his drama while waiting on the final verdict? Would the closing decision mean freedom or verdict?

A journalist Tomislav Kezarovski can breathe more easily until the Court reaches a final verdict in his case. A moment for relief after days of uncertainty and without enough fresh air while a journalist Kezarovski was in detention in the Prison Skopje in Skopje. Criminal Court Council of the Primary Court in Skopje 1 pronounced today to change the previous decision on detention in prison with the home detention in duration of 30 days, until the final verdict is reached. Kezarovski will be reunited with his wife Marina and her 13-years old daughter.

The decision of the Court Council came after the lawyer of Kezarovski, Filip Medarski appealed to the Court Council. Primary Court in Skopje 1 through Public Communication Office prepared recently the decision on their webpage on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

Prosecution can appeal the decision of the Criminal Court Council, although that would not thwart the decision on house detention.

In a telephone conversation Marina Kezarovska stated she was surprised by the decision.

Earlier, the Judge Dijana Gruevska Ilievska and the Criminal Court Council of Primary Court in Skopje 1 announced the verdict. They formulated the judgement in the case “Liquidation” for eight indicated person by the State Prosecution.

The Criminal Court Council and Judge Dijana Gruevska Ilievska announced four years and six-months prison. In first instance court, Gruevska sentenced a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski October 21, 2012 in Skopje.  Outside the courtroom relatives of Kezarovski who waited for  the outcome, hear the news on sentence shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday. They reacted with unbelief and sadness to the verdict.

Filip Medarski, a lawyer of Kezarovski did not comment the verdict in front of the Primary Court Skopje 1 in Skopje. Medarski who represents Kezarovski has a right to appeal the verdict to Court of Appeal in Skopje.

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RAW Video: Case “Liquidation” Oct.21, 2013

A journalist Tomislav Kezarovski spent 11 days in detention more until the Criminal Council of Primary Court in Skopje 1 reach the verdict on the case “Liquidation.”

Kezarovski appealed Oct.10 in his closing words to the judges for a release verdict on his case. The closing words of those indicted in “Liquidation” case happened today in the courtroom of the Supreme Court in Skopje after the trial was rescheduled in another building than the courtroom of Primary Court in Skopje 1.

Media present inside the courtroom report that the case should end next session when the verdict in the case is expected. Possible date for the verdict is Oct.21, 2013.

Trial for detained journalist Tomislav Kezarovski continued Monday Oct.7 upon closing hearing of lawyers in the trial case at the Primary Court in Skopje 1. A prosecutor in the case “Liquidation” Lile Stefanova asked for a prison sentence for all indicted with different charges in the case.

Marina Kezarovska was in the courtroom to hear the closing words of her husband Tomislav Kezarovski, who is almost five months in detention. She was outside the courtroom building in Skopje waiting with patience to see her husband and talk with other friends and relatives of Kezarovski.

Marina Kezarovski waits to see her husband Tomislav Kezarovski. Oct.7 2013
Marina Kezarovska waits to see her husband Tomislav Kezarovski. Oct.7 2013

Inside the courtroom, media reports, the prosector Lile Stefanova dismissed the arguments of defend, while the lawyers of those indicted with different charges in the case say their contra arguments and closing words in the case.

A lawyer of Kezarovski, Filip Medarski asked for a journalist release, explaining that the article 10 of the European Convention on human rights and article 16 of Republic of Macedonia Constitution will be violated if Kezarovski is convicted, writes newspaper Utrinski Vesnik.  

The herrings of detained in trial case “Liquidation” continued today in the Primary Court 1 in Skopje without the presence of the media and the public. Earlier on Friday, Sept.27 Association of Journalist of Macedonia issued the statement that Kezarovski’s detention represents a punishment.

“Our legislation and international standards for detention insist on the shortest time and convincing explanation,” underlines AJM adding that Kezarovski fulfills the condition to defend himself on freedom for alleged publishing of protected witness. AJM reaction came after the Council the Criminal Court in Skopje decided to prolong the detention of Kezarovski for another 30 days.

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The probable cause hearing of a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski and other seven person detained in the action that police named Liquidation started yesterday Friday, August 9, 2013 at 10 a.m. and finished the same day not long after 6 p.m. at the Primary Court 1 in Skopje.

In his affidavit, according to daily newspaper Vest, a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski stated, “he never endangers someone’s life or made any damage to anyone.” ”I will prove the truth that is on my side,” said a journalist Kezarovski, who as daily Vest reports started to cry several times while giving his affidavit statement.

According to the newspaper Vest, Kezarovski stated he received the report on the case from an anonymous source who contacted him by phone with unlisted number, and he told him to which vendor to go and to collect the envelope. After this, the newspaper daily Vest states that Kezarovski said he investigated for two weeks and decided to publish a report.

Kezarovski is in detention due to the fact he allegedly disclosure protected witness in the writings related to the case of a crime murder in the village of Orashe in Macedonia. According to the Existing Law on witness protection from May 2005, a person could face at least four years in prison if disclosure the identity, home or place of stay of witness protected person.

Ethical codex of journalists in Macedonia in the article four states: “The journalist shall point out the source of information, but if the source demands to remain anonymous the journalist shall protect him.”

A murder crime in a village of Oreshe close to Veles in Macedonia that happened in 2005 is opened again for an investigation after police investigation in which police claims that have evidence for misconduct in judiciary structure related in this case. Kezarovski is in detention at penitentiary institution Skopje at Shuto Orizari Municipality and faces new situation to him.

While the process in the case “Liquidation” continued today at the Primary Court in Skopje, Prime Minister of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski wrote a letter to the OSCE representative Dunja Mijatovic on the case of detention of a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski, on whom OSCE representative for freedom of press urged Prime Minister of Macedonia with one worrying letter she sent recently to Macedonia and previous statement published on OSCE Web page.

According to the letter of Prime minister Gruevski, which content on Macedonian language is available in the Web page of the Government of Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Kezarovski is in detention “not because of his writing, but because he is charged with an act contrary to the Law of witness protection” and that with specific law that is punishable as a criminal act.  “Neither profession, including journalism, should not be amnestied and everyone is responsible by the law”, underlines Prime minister Gruevski in his letter to Mijatovik.

“The system of witness protection is a valuable tool in the fight against organized crime, and that system should not be corrupted by any means,” Prime Minister Gruevski stated in the letter to OSCE.

Prime Minister of Republic of Macedonia thinks only judges responsible for the case are those who can grant permission that can visit Mr. Kezarovski in detention.

Though, asking assistance of him, as a president of the government, for obtaining permission OSCE representative Mijatovic can visit Mr. Kezarovski in detention is “inappropriate,” emphasized in his letter Prime Minister Gruevski.

Such assistance, Prime minister Gruevski thinks could be perceived as a pressure from the government to the judiciary. The Criminal Code Law, Prime minister Gruevski wrote to Mijatovic, define the specific procedures for visits of those in detention.

I will not take the courage to judge whether you have a right or not to a visit of Mr. Kezarovski in detention, although rather would underline there is a need to give a trust to judges responsible to whom they grant the right for a visit, said Gruevski in his letter to Mijatovik.

“Any intervention of the executive branch would undermine constitutional order throughout the country and would endanger basic values of a democratic society,” wrote Gruevski in the response letter to OSCE media representative Dunja Mijatovic.

Prime minister Gruevski thinks it is unnecessary to address copy of his letter to Mijatovik to Criminal Council of the Criminal Court that decides on the detention in the case of a journalist Tomislva Kezarovski.

In another letter now addressed to the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski OSCE representative for freedom of press, Dunja Mijatovik, underlying that “imprisonment of journalists” for theirs writings: “is not acceptable,” after the Council of Criminal Court extended Kezarovski’s detention for another 30 days on August 24, 2013 with an explanation of the possibility, he would not appear at the trial hearings.

“This is the only case for the Western Balkan region where a journalist is held in prison pending trial. I am concerned both by his arrest and excessively lengthy detention, as they negatively impact on media freedom in your country,” Mijatović said,” in a statement published on OSCE Web page.

Under the pressure of what the days and moths will bring he starts a hunger strike that he ended today, as online edition of Dnevnik newspaper reports. Kezarovski ended the hunger strike upon an appeal of OSCE representative for freedom of press, Dunja Mijatovik, who appealed today to the authorities for his freedom and to Kezarovski to end the hunger strike. He was on hunger strike from Monday July 22, 2013.

In a written statement for the media, published from Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) headquarters in Vienna, Mijatovik stated she was alarmed with the decision of pre-trial detention for Kezarovski that is extended for another 30 days and appealed to authorities to review the case.

“I urge the authorities in Skopje to consider this matter as urgent and serious. Kezarovski’s continued detention already has a severe impact on media freedom in the country,” Mijatović concluded in the written statement published on OSCE web page on July 25, 2013.

Although, it was the unpleasant surprise when among the detained judiciary and prosecution members, the name of journalists was added in the list of detained in the case by the police on May 28, 2013. Regardless all appeal from the journalistic community in Macedonia for freedom of a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski the Criminal Council of the Criminal Court in Skopje decided to prolong the detention for a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski for another 30 days, today on July 24, 2013, aside the fact the bail was posted by Kezarovski’s family at the court.

Executive director of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic in Macedonia photographed while protests in front of prison Skopje holds a flayer Freedom for Kezarovski. According to this organization there are gaps in the procedure for detention of Kezarovski. /July 26, 2013.
Uranija Pirovska, executive director of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic in Macedonia photographed while protests in front of prison Skopje holds a flayer Freedom for Kezarovski. According to this organization there are gaps in the procedure for detention of Kezarovski. /July 26, 2013.

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia requested Court of Appeal Skopje to consider the appeal for release of detention in the case of a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski.

According to the press release of the Committee with deliberately or inadvertently decision of Court of Appeal not to review the appeal against the decision for detention, the Court of Appeal breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

Confronted with the information not only about the hunger strike, but also with the notion Kezarovski will be in detention for another 30 days in detention facing charges for alleged disclosure of protected source, journalists asked on Thursday, July 25, 2013 for Kezarovski release of detention and appealed ending of the hunger strike.

“By the name of the initiatory committee, we appeal to him to end the hunger strike because the most important is his health,” stated Zoran Dimitorvski, member on the ad-hock committee that advocate for Kezarovski freedom. Dimitrovski underlines that he uses the occasion to “appeal to the institutions to try to lead in order this partisan and imperial system of justice and police in Macedonia.”

Both association of journalists in Macedonia requested freedom for Kezarovski on today’s protests in front of the Primary Court in Skopje. “Selective justice is the biggest injustice” says one of the paroles journalists hold on the protest in Skopje where journalists requested freedom for Kezarovski.

Kezarovski is in detention since May 28, 2013 due to the writings and alleged disclosure of protected witness in a criminal case, the Court is reviewing.

Association of a journalist of Republic of Macedonia, journalism schools and journalist protested peacefully today, May 31, 2013 in front of the Primary Court 1 in Skopje. The protest organized on the Social Media by professional journalist associations to express disagreements on the way a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski is detained, and it is in custody for thirty days after the decision of the investigative judge Tatjana Mihajlovska and his arrest on May 28, 2013.

Law-authorities arrested Kezarovski together with other residents of Macedonia during the police raid named Liquidation in connection to the case of murder in the village of Oreshe. Kezarovski is detained because he allegedly disclosure protected witness who lost this status during the court trial in the case of murder.  Kezarovski published the article when he worked for “Reporter 92” newspaper. Prior to his detention, he worked at daily newspaper Nova Makedonija.

Zoran Dimitorovski, editor in chief of daily newspaper Nova Makedonija talked to the media on arrest and thirty days of detention for a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski.

In a commentary published by online edition of Nova Makedonija, Why do I ask freedom for a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski, Dimtrovski writes, “the request a journalist Tomislav Kezarovski can defend itself on freedom it is not an issue of caprice submitted by journalism professionals, (because it puts journalist on the stage who does not have to be in custody due to his profession), but “it is a serious scream for justice against the improper use of power by the police and prosecutors?”

Petrit Saracini from Macedonian Institute for Media stated he sawfor the first time “colleagues of different media who have different editorial policy together in defense of principles.”

“I hope we will continue together like this in the defense of principles. Everyone can have its opinion, although we need to be together in sharing principles. Tomislav Kezarovski is in custody because of an article he wrote, he was arrested because he defended public interest,” says Saracini on the protest organized on 31 May, 2013.

According to the Web page of the Ministry of Interior in Macedonia, police submitted criminal charges to the prosecution for seven people on May 28, 2013 after an investigation with the code name Liquidation. The Primary Court in Skopje with a press release published on their Web page reacted to the protests and requests from the initiatory committee for freedom release of Tomislav Kezarovski with the claims that this a pressure from the judiciaryf or a lawful decision brought by the court.

According to the European convention on human rights and its article 5, everyone arrested and detained “shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.”

The president of the Primary Court in Skopje, Vladimir Pancevski stated for ‘Utrinski Vesnik’ newspaper that the judicial process for this case will start as soon as possible, will not wait until September for the procedure and that the court will review all evidence submitted with the charges.

This is a developing story and will update accordingly. Opinions of experts after the verdict in first instance court are not included because that could influence the process.

Note: Photographs are only for journalism reporting and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Related links:

Click on the link for the video released by the police for detention in the operation Liquidation: http://bit.ly/18ESNMU

The following is the link to the Law on witness protection: zastita_na_svedoci-1

Note to the readers:

Since February 13, 2014 Zoran Ditmitrovski is not the editor-in-chief of newspaper Nova Makedonija. Please acknowledge Dimitrovski was on that job position during the writing of the article and editing the videos last year.

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2 thoughts on “Tomislav Kezarovski – A Journalist Who Became a Story Itself

  1. Pingback: Court of Appeal in Skopje Lowers Sentence for a Journalist Tomislav Kezarovski | Aleksandra Dukovska

  2. Pingback: Kezarovski Protested for His Own Freedom | Aleksandra Dukovska

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