Police Used Water Cannon To Disperse Protesters In Skopje

Time: 10:01 p.m. CEST

The decision of the Primary Court Skopje 1 on six life imprisonment in the case of Smilkovsko Lake killings is a sentence of first instance. According to rules, the defense could appeal the judgment at higher instance courts. Even in the first instance the sentence evokes the variety of argumentation from unjust to the fairness.

Moreover, several protests during the weekend show the fragility of the situation.

Head of the Islamic Religious Community Grand Mufti Sulejman Rexhepi reacts on the use of “flags with Arabic text during last week protests,” in the written article for online edition of KOHA on July 10, 2014. According to Rexhepi, the protests are democratic right guaranteed by the law.

In the protests initiated for a purpose, the goal achieved through a total chaos and anarchy, serves no national or religious cause, says Rexhepi. He does not justifies the protests without the organizers. Rexhepi addresses both Macedonians and Macedonian Albanians, and warns religious issues could not cover the real political problems. Head of the Islamic Religious Community disagrees with the police action toward protesters, even though Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski praised the police.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski says: “The state and the institutions had a capacity to deal with this, and with the other situations more unpleasant than the this one, ” reports Dnevnik on Monday, July 7, 2014.

“The Ministry of Interior completed their tasks very professionally in the past few days. And we would not allow an escalation of the protests to the extent to threaten residents and institutions interests,” explains Gruevski.

All instances in the state, including Macedonian Orthodox Church appealed for a non-violence, underlying violent protests could harm the country.

The parents and relatives of killed left the courtroom in silence, without a statement, afterward the decision of the Primary Court on Monday, June 30, 2014. At those affected by the sentence, the decision sparked discontent and disagreements.

After tumultuous and sweltering Friday afternoon with riot police intervention on protesters, the weekend ended with calming the situation after two other gatherings on Saturday and Sunday.

The tensions ease during the Sunday afternoon, compared to Friday’s police intervention and stone throwing by the protesters.

The Sunday’s peaceful sit-in protests ended without intervention of the riot police on the Boulevard “Krste Petkov Misirkov.” Police secured the protest against the decision of Primary Court Skoje 1 in Tetovo

One reporter who is on internship reportedly spent the night between Saturday and Sunday detained by the police on the suspicion he is a participant on the Saturday’s gathering.

The Ministry of Interior Sector for professional standards confirms on July 8, 2014, B.I. was held in the police station as he was apprehended on July 5 at 3:20 p.m. by the police officer under suspicion he break the public order.

In the press release, the Ministry’s Sector for professional standards says, police use force while he was detained and the police prepared report on the use of the appropriate means. In the same news release, Ministry’s Sector for professional standards claims that they enable rights to the detained person, and police did not use excessive force. Police submitted charges on July 6, 2014, to the investigative judge for B.I., reportedly for the participation in the protests.

Association on Journalists of Macedonia says Besim Ibrahimi was doing his job professionally with the knowledge of his editor in chief to cover the protests. “He categorically rejects all accusations that he was a participant in the protests and interfered with police officers in the performance of their duty, ” says AJM in the news release published on the AJM website.

Online website Lajm updates their’s colleague Besim Ibrahimi was released on Sunday, July 6, 2014, after the intervention of Association of Journalists of Macedonia’s president Naser Selmani, European Union Delegation in Macedonia, and members of Organization of Security and Cooperation. The lawyer Skender Mehmeti confirmed the news.

The website Lajm on Albanian language publishes on July 5, 2014, their reporter on internship Besim Ibrahimi was arrested at 3:20 p.m. on Saturday, July 5, 2014, as he contacted Lajm by his phone. After that his phone was unresponsive, writes Lajm.

Police detained three persons on Saturday, July 5, 2014, while another gathering for protests in Skopje, near Cair Municipality. Police secure the places in the neighborhood, and submitted criminal charges for seven persons to the Public Prosecution.

Two years since the initial protests against police after killings at Smilkovsko Lake, the “Monster” case creates disagreements. After the decision in first instance of the Primary Court Skopje 1 for life sentences of six defendants, protesters expressed the discontent with the court judgment.

Compared to the first protests after Friday prayer two years ago, this time police dispersed protesters with water cannons and reportedly with tear gas canisters.

While using police tactics in a riot situation, some of the members of police faced first consequences of reportedly chemical agents on them selves; coughing and difficulty breathing.

In several situations and on different place from the court complex to the neighborhood in Municipality Cair, protesters used stones toward police.

The videos show police action to disperse protesters.

Police ask for an emergency service unit to transfer injured, as this video show.

Few hours after this moment, the protests ended as protesters dispersed into side streets of the Boulevard “Krste Petkov Misirkov, and “Cvetan Dimov” Street.

According to the news release of the Ministry of Interior, police detained six person and about 20 policemen were injured during the protest that started at 1:20 p.m. end ended about 4:00 p.m. on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Riot policeman stands across the group of protesters with masks on the Boulevard “Krste Petkov Misirkov” and Street “Cvetan Dimov” in Municipality Cair. Members of the law enforcement disperse protesters on Friday, July 4, 2014.
Protesters walk by the fire during the protests against the decision of the Primary Court Skopje 1 in the case "Monster." Police dispersed protests started after the Friday prayer in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia on Friday, July 4, 2014.
Protesters walk by the fire during the protests against the decision of the Primary Court Skopje 1 in the case “Monster.” Police dispersed protests started after the Friday prayer in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia on Friday, July 4, 2014.
A protester attempts to escape of the water cannon during the protests in Skopje on Friday, July 5, 2014.
A protester attempts to escape of the water cannon during the protests in Skopje on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Latest Development:

The Ministry of Interior identified 10 more person who, according to them participated in “the violent protests last Friday and Saturday, ” the Ministry said in a written statement on July 9, 2014.

They are all of Skopje in the age between 18 and 40. MOI says the number of those participated in the “extremely aggressive protests increase to 34.” The Ministry undertakes the measures to pursue further measures. The Ministry will process 24 of them with charges, while for other 10 with misdemeanor MOI would ask they should pay for a violation of the public order.

Note: The story was updated on: July 7, 2014, 10:13 p.m. CEST; July 8, 2014, 7:27 p.m. CEST and of July 9, 2014, as the Ministry of Interior publishes updates on their measures.

Please note that the photographs or video related to the protests cannot be used for any identification purposes. They are solely for journalism purposes and to inform the readers of the blog.

Note: Translation of the article of the head of the Islamic Religious Community written in Albanian to English is with Google Translate.


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