A Skopje court sentenced six people for 2012 murders that officials say were committed to put ethnic Macedonians and Albanians in conflict.
By Biljana Lajmanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 10/07/14
Protesters riot in Skopje after a court sentenced six people on charges of terror-related murder.
"The state won't let these protests escalate to an extent where they can jeopardise the interests of the people and the [country's] institutions," Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski told reporters on Monday (July 7th). "We support peaceful protests like in any democratic country, but no one, nowhere, can support protests where violence is used."
Protests extended for days, at times turning violent, following last week's sentencing in the case of six Islamic extremists who were convicted in the deaths of five ethnic Macedonians at Orthodox Easter in 2012. Alil Demiri, Afrim Ismailovic, Agim Ismailovic, Fejzi Aziri, Haki Aziri and Sami Ljuta were given life sentences on June 30th. One person was acquitted.
Thousands of protesters on Friday (July 4th) gathered outside the criminal court building in Skopje, some throwing bricks and rocks, and riot police fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon into the crowd, according to media reports.
Rallies have also been reported in smaller towns, and many have been peaceful. Police in Tetovo on Sunday (July 6th) used stun grenades to disburse about 1,000 protesters, according to BIRN.
Authorities say the six men committed the murder in an effort to provoke ethnic conflict in between the Macedonian majority and the ethnic Albanian minority.
"The verdict is justified. I expected [the accused to receive] life sentences," Goran Nakevski, father of one of the murder victims, told SETimes.
But the families of the convicted Albanians said they feel there is not enough evidence to prove guilt...................