Smiljkovsko Lake Case


Macedonian Crossroads
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Update: May 16, 2013 6:26 p.m. CEST; May 22, 2013 5:57 (CEST)

Skopje I Macedonia: Kosovo authorities will respect all international standards in the case of the need for extradition of two main suspect for Macedonian law-authorities, allegedly responsible for the killings that occur in April 2012 near Skopje artificial Smilkovsko Lake.

Macedonian Ministry of Interior Gordana Jankulovska got the verbal assurance during the bilateral meeting on Tuesday night on May 21 with her Kosovo counterpart Bajram Redzepi, while both attending Conference of the Ministry of Interior in Brdo, near Kranj, Slovenia. Republic of Macedonia’s Ministry of Interior published on the website the content of the bilateral talks between Kosovo’s and Macedonian’s ministers of interior while the Conference of the Ministry of Interior in Brdo, near Kranj, Slovenia.

According to the published information of Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Interior, Kosovo Minister of Interior, Bajram Redzepi ( a former Kosovo prime-minister) said that two people internationally searched by the police in Macedonia “did not have and did not ask for Kosovo citizenship”.

Minister of Justice of Kosovo, Hajredin Kuci reviled two main suspects in the case of the murder of five people in April, 2012 have dual citizenship macedonian and that of Kosovo and that the court should decide if they will be extradite to Macedonia, reports daily Dnevnik on May 16 2013 quoting the text from SETimes of May 15 2013 on the case. Law enforcement authorities searched them under suspicion and charges of terrorism under Macedonian laws.

Both suspects are in Kosovo prison for possession of firearms while arrested by the police in Kosovo on 23 of March 2013, reports Dnevnik, Kuci’s statement for SETImes.

It is unclear how and when two suspects obtained Kosovo citizenship. Neither Kosovo, neither Macedonia forbids in their laws dual citizenship, but the countries has not signed any agreement of dual citizenship, like that Macedonia signed with Montenegro. According to the article 2 of Law on citizenship of Republic of Macedonia, Macedonian citizens can have dual citizenship, but while on the territory of Macedonia they are treated only as macedonian citizens.

According to the article 5 Law on citizenship of Kosovo a person can become a citizen of Kosovo in the following cases:

a) by birth;
b) by adoption;
c) by naturalization;
d) based on international treaties
e) based on Articles 28 and 29 of this Law.

Ministry of Justice in Macedonia asked from their counterparts in Kosovo for an extradition of main suspects in the case of killings of Good Friday after police at Kosovo detained them at the end of the week on the base of  Kosovo and Macedonia’s extradition agreement that regulates legal matters.

Police in Kosovo informed their counterpart in Macedonia on March 3, 2013,  that they detained two people believed to be main suspects in the case of killing of five citizens early in the spring near Skopje, reports Macedonian Ministry of Interior.

Macedonian MOI confirmed today the identity of  detained main suspects by Kosovo Police and informed the process of collecting the documents for an extradition process began in cooperation with Kosovo police.  Detained citizens of Macedonia are in  48 hours detention in Kosovo after police in Macedonia confirmed their identity.

During the police raid Monster after killings on Good Friday Eve, police in Macedonia claimed that two main suspects escaped to Kosovo, although police will expect more details if the two main suspects were hiding in Kosovo untill the moment Kosovo police found and arrested them.

Case at Court

Judicial experts who participated in the autopsy of the victims in Good Friday killings in the Criminal Court in Skopje explained the cause of the death, reports online edition of newspaper Dnevnik of February 13, 2013. Judicial experts said that mortal wounds are reason for all five victims decease, reports Dnevnik from court hearing.

The trial in a case of murder that happened on the eve of Eastern Orthodox Religious Holiday in the spring of 2012 near artificial Smiljkovci Lake started today at the Criminal Court in Skopje, reports Radio Free Europe, online edition on Macedonian language.  The trial started today (December 20, 2012) should determine if six persons are guilty on charges of terrorism.

According to the Prosecution, the murder intended to destabilize the security in the country, reports online edition of Radio Free Europe. The defense claims that the prosecution lacks evidences in the case, writes Radio Free Europe. Various media online editions in Macedonia reported that after short introduction in court today, the trial first hearing was postponed for the beginning of 2013.

Public Prosecution Office for organized crime and corruption brought the charges of terrorism for six person of a Muslim religion background and on the second day of religious holiday Eid-al-Adha. According to the officials, the charges related with the case of killings that happened on the eve of Orthodox Eastern. The prosecution brought decision after four of arrested in the police raid Monster spend six months in detention. Skopje Basic Court should decide on the further destiny of the case.

Starting from April 12th 2012 when the murder occurred until month before this decision this was the development in the case according to the local media. Another thirty days of detention for three person arrested in the police raid Monster, reports Skopje based TV station AlsatM in September 2012. If prosecution does not take charge detained, they could be released next month because the 180 days of detention according to law will end. A month before the court decided same.

Criminal Court in Skopje decided today to endure the detention of five person accused on terrorism for another thirty days, reports online edition of newspaper Dnevnik of July 2, 2012. In the frame of legal nighty days, the period an accused can support in detention, State Prosecution should decide if they will bring charges on terrorism.

The leader of social-democratic party who is in opposition in Macedonia, Branko Crvenovski thinks we need to believe state institutions have enough indications to prove in court procedure “accused for the murder are really ones who committed the crime”.

In an interview for AlsatM Thursday night program “Way To” on June 7th 2012, (05’54”-08′:05″) Crvenkovski answered he does not know why religious context has been assigned to the murder, though he underlined that this question should be answered.

“It is not sufficient to prove that those are the murderer now, because one adds fuel in the fire and should validate the motive is in correlation with Radical Islam or publicly to admit this thesis cannot be supported. The case should be cleared because of the future. We are multi-confessional society and we should not leave the marks or scars in behind, that can be used or misused in the following period,” stated Crvenkovski for the program “Way To” on AlsatM TV.

It was Minister of Interior (MOI) Gordana Jankulovska who use the term “radical Islam” at the press – conference on May 1, 2012 at the Ministry headquarters in Skopje after police raid Monster where police arrested twenty persons to killings of five citizens on the eve of Good Friday holiday in Macedonia.

According to state agency MIA and information uploaded on MOI Web page Janulovska stated on May 1, 2012, the principal motive is probably their idea for killings in radical Islam and the goal is to create feelings of fear among the citizens, no matter they share religious or secular views.   

“The motive is in their idea, believes and following of radical Islam which is dangerous for believers of Christianity, of the Muslim religion and for those who not believe in any religion,” reported Minister Jankulovska on the Labor Day news conference, according to the state news agency MIA.

At the same news conference Jankulovska informed police would fill charges on terrorism for twenty persons regardless they have no relation with the killings of five citizens in April.

Since Labor Day, only six persons are in 30 days detention upon a decision of investigative judge Vladimir Tufekdzik from Basic Court 1 in Skopje and wait on decision of Prosecution in detention centers ne several locations in Macedonia.

Minister: Nothing to overshadow most complicated case in Macedonia

They all are waiting on decision of the Public Prosecution Office if it is going to send the case on court.  That is very likely to happen in a time frame known only to the State Public Prosecutor Ljupco Svrgovski.

Svrgovski stated on May 15, 2012, the Prosecutors have solid evidence that arrested in the action Monster are real perpetrators and accomplices of the murder of five citizens which is filled as terrorism. In a statement published by the media, Svrgovski briefly discloses some of the behind scene happenings, although without specific details how prosecution will possibly defend the case at court.

“Special investigative measure in the part of interception of communication were used upon of the issuance of investigative judge order”, added State Public Prosecutor Svrgovski in a statement published in an online edition of newspaper Dnevnik on May 15, 2012.

Despite open remarks the way police treated arrested, Minister Jankulovska defended police action Monster in an interview for the bilingual TV station ALSATM on May 10, 2012, although promising Ministry will investigate omissions if notified.  

“I don’t have information that is made omission. If the omission is made we will take measures. Nothing should overshadow the most complicated case in Macedonia,” said Jankulovska for AlsatM’s Thursday night TV program Way to (23′:19″-23′:52″) on May 10, 2012, answering the question that relatives of arrested make remarks on police methods to the office of the Public Ombudsman.

Not only, treatment of police during the action caught the attention of public. The alteration followed after the information on mistreatment of detained in Bitola Prison after police action Monster.

“Three prison guards are on suspension, allegedly because of mistreatment of detained persons after police action Monster,” reported online edition of the daily Dnevnik on May 23, 201.

According to the Directorate for execution of sanction, the prison director Slavko Gacovski formed a disciplinary committee to determined what happened in this case after conflicting reports of Ombudsman and prison officials on the case, broadcasted AlsatM on May 24, 2012.

Earlier, despite the calls to restrain with using the terminology and labeling arrested which came mainly from media on Albanian languages, officials in Macedonia maintain on in the initiative lines on the case.

State officials, who are mainly members to the majority of population in Macedonia, confirmed that the police had enough evidence for the terrorism charges it brought last week against five persons. The chargers of the police are in relation to the case of killing of five persons last month during the Eastern Orthodox Eastern.

“What I am informed from Ministry of Interior, I can confirm that the Ministry had ensured enough evidence, which will be presented to the court for the killings of five persons at Smilkovsko Lake,” reports state news agency MIA on Saturday, May 5, on statement of Nikola Gruevski, prime minister of Macedonia.

In a statement published in an online edition of daily Nova Makedonija, on May 5 2012, State Prosecutor Svrgovski does not says when the Prosecution will officially brought the charges on terrorism. And that it is waiting for the investigation of the Primary Court Skopje 1 in Skopje on the case and returns in to he hand of  prosecutors.

And on May 7, which is a police day holiday in the country, Ministry for Interior Gordana Jankulovska confirmed that MOI has enough evidence on “which Prosecution can brought the charges on terrorism, even though the forensics does not confirmed the seized weapon in the police action were used in Good Friday killings”, reported Telma TV.

Jankulovska said that the court is the institution that will need to reach final decision on the case.

All of the official statements came after spontaneous protest organized on social media Facebook and took place, firstly on May 4, 2012 in front of couple of state institutions, when a large group after the Friday prayer in a Skopje mosque went on protest.

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Protests combusted in Macedonia in April 2012 after police raid Monster and claims of police “followers of radical Islam” are responsible for the killings of five citizens during Good Friday holiday. Although small in terms of presence, these belligerent adolescents were loud to send their message of anger and paroles mainly addressed to Albanian population in the country.

Members of non majority of population had protested against the state institutions and the way the police officers brought arrested women in hijab to the Basic court in Skopje. Police arrested 20 person, although submitted charges only on six person.

Following the police raid, investigative judge issued 30 days in detention for those six person. Public prosecutors decided to accept police evidence and materials and support police charges on terrorism. In a court procedure that started in December, 2012 the public expects to find the truth who and why committed the killings.

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Protestors voices

Stop of police constructed cases started as a nonviolent protest after the Friday, May 4, 2012, prayer at Yahya Pasha Mosque at Skopje but turned out with occasional escalation of situation among those who went to protest.

Protesters organized upon the Facebook call began with turning down trash containers on the street near the mosque and caused traffic stopped.

Recent police raid, arrest, detention of members of non majority of the population, claims and several allegedly brought charges on terrorism in Macedonia were the reason for the organized march to the state institutions.

At one point, few of protesters broke  bus stop glass, stopped traffic and shouted loudly in expression of anger as reflection to the male police law enforcement officers brought women in hijab to the court in Skopje two days ago.

Later after the protest finished, allegedly some of the protesters broke the windows of Chair municipality in Skopje; build with European Union donation before couple years ago. The fired up trash containers left beyond on the street after the protest.

The reason that triggered out this expression of anger was police press conference on Labor Day after a police raid with code name Monster and connection of Good Friday killings with radical Islam.

Police claimed members of the captured group fought in Pakistan and Afghanistan. MOI issued videos, and other materials seized in the raid and distributed to the media.

Ten others out of twenty arrested were released after had been questioned by the Investigative judge. The relatives of arrested spent more than twelve hours in front of the Skopje Court waiting on news brought by lawyers who informed them occasionally on happenings inside the court. One woman was woman was realized due to her health conditions.

Is this a case of terrorism and radical religion?

Labeling of the arrested with radical Islam and as police said: “terrorism” opened a debate on police raid and behavior of police with arrested women wearing hijab and using the term “terrorism”.

Almost a week after the photos and videos of raid were published, broadcasted and uploaded online in the media, the reaction came from the biggest religious organization of Muslims in Macedonia.

Islamic Religious Community shared their compassion with the families of five killed citizens in Macedonia on the eve of Good Friday, at the same sharing concerns on labeling detained person as radical Islamists and expressed worries how police brought Muslim women to Investigative court in Skopje who were arrested in the police action on May 8, 2012.

A Professor and head of master studies of Peace and Development at Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, Biljana Vankovska in a column titled Self-fulfilling prophecy in newspaper Nova Makedonija published on May 7 wrote that: “After the police action Monster accused were inappropriately qualified as members of radical Islam.”

Vankovska referrers those ten years after global War on terror in which we enthusiastically have been participating, we miss to learn from our conflict in 2001, learned less of the global War on terror and by using the same twist we are shooting ourselves in the foot by importing the terrorism at home.

She reprimanded two largest communities in the country. According to Vankovska’s column “ after Friday public and insolent parade of the group of Wahhabis in front of the police and governmental structure, two largest communities, ethnic or religious, show what they think on each other without hypocrisy. Everyone put the finger on others, one speaks on collective quilt, other speaks on collective innocence”.

“Muslims (primarily Albanians) marched to “prove” they are collective victims in the style of true believers and shoot themselves in the foot. The damage they allowed one marginalized community to represent them is probably bigger than the police action itself with all deficiencies. Macedonians without efforts received key evidence that: “all” Albanians are radical Islamists, public or nascent”, wrote Vankovska in the column Self-fulfilling prophecy.

All those events occurred after five citizens were murdered near Skopje mid April this year. Four boys in theirs twenties are among the dead and one male citizens age 45 in the eve of Good Friday holiday in Macedonia at artificial fish lake near Skopje.  Two days after the murder protesters went to walk and clashed with police officers that was as a wall to those trying went in part of the city of Skopje, mainly populated with Albanians.

Macedonian Criminal code in article 313 defines criminal activities under terrorism, explaining “one with intention to danger Constitution or the security of Republic of Macedonia will cause or seriously will threat with explosion, fire, flood or other acts of violence, committing sense of insecurity or fear among the citizens will be punished with at least four year in prison”.

Couple of other articles in the Criminal Code defined sentence for being a member of terrorist organization or participating in the international terrorism, although the law lacks specific definition what the state define as terrorism in Macedonia.

Conflict of 2001 raised the question on terrorism, although peace agreement from August 13, 2001 helped those issues to stay outside of the public discussion. It seems the police raid Monster open some of those issues and triggered again emotional reaction, especially among Albanian population. Professor Vankovska in her column Self-fulfilling prophecy of May 7, 2012 wrote that: “the killings of five innocent victims was an act of terrorism” and that those ordered it or committed are on safe because and most are afraid to dig dipper and to find answers that requires decisive actions”.

Vankovska says the causes for terrorism are not always religiously routed.

“Terrorism is not always religiously collared. One can refer to something called nationalist terrorism, or terrorism related to conflict. We suffered from that kind of terrorism”, wrote Vankovska in the column referring that in support of peaceful coexistence “we lack to use that name”.

Considering one study discovered 109 different definitions of the word terrorism, Macedonia is not the only one country facing challenges of this controversial term.

On the global level, according to Susan D. Moeller, director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda and professor in the school of journalism and Public Policy at University of Maryland wrote in her book Packaging Terrorism the issues of definition arise because:

1. Some governments have little interest in defining terrorism; 

2. Many governments are unwilling to define terrorism.

According to Moeller “there is no-agreed definition on terrorism”. Although, several explanation could give the frame on what domestic terrorism is perceived and what are the definition has been in use in the USA.

In accordance to the FBI memo, domestic terrorism is unlawful use of violence committed by a group of two or more individuals, against persons to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Furthermore, the USA Patriot Act defines, domestic terrorism as acts that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, appear to intimidate a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government, to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnaping and geographically are located in the USA.

In a situation without clear understandings in the Macedonia what definition of domestic or home-grown terrorism is, international representatives and public in the country expect fair trial, and court decision on the case. There is no time limit how much the court procedure should long be.

Another case with charges on terrorism is the case of Sopot when two Polish NATO soldiers and two Macedonian citizens were killed by landmine on May 4th, 2003.  The already closed case were sent on re-trial and still is open in the court of Skopje due to the statements on key witness that he was forced to admit who committed the crime.

Photo gallery of anti-government protests in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia on May,12 2012. 

               Note: All pictures and video are for journalism purposes and any use for recognition are forbidden by the author.  

One thought on “Smiljkovsko Lake Case

  1. Pingback: Primary Court Decision: Six Life Imprisonment and One Acquitted in case “Smilkovsko Lake” | Aleksandra Dukovska

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