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Parliament adopts amnesty law for participants in the April 2017 incident

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With 95 votes in favor, the Macedonian Parliament today adopted a law on amnesty over the April 2017 incident in the Parliament.

The law is expected to pardon the three former VMRO-DPMNE members of Parliament who were charged in this case, and conditioned their vote in favor of the amendments to rename Macedonia into North Macedonia with an amnesty. VMRO-DPMNE demanded a broad amnesty, not one which would apply only to the members of Parliament whose votes are necessary to the ruling majority. In the end, the text provides amnesty to all non-violent participants in the incident, but will not apply to the “organizers” of the incident. Thousands of protesters entered the Parliament on April 27th 2017, provoked by SDSM, DUI and several smaller parties who staged an improvised session to elect a new Parliament Speaker. Ziadin Sela, leader of the Alliance of Albanians, was badly beaten in the incident, while a number of SDSM representatives were also kicked or dragged.

Besides the members of Parliament, protest leaders were also detained, among them world acclaimed opera singer Igor Durlovski, director Boris Damovski, actor Vlado Jovanovski and others.

According to the law, those eligible for amnesty will have five days to submit requests for pardons, and the Court will make a decision, taking into account the evidence provided by the prosecutors.

Sela was strongly critical of the proposal. “I survived a murder attempt, but today, they are killing me for a second time. The perpetrators of the attack on me will walk free, but people who actually protected my life, they will still be held accountable, Sela said, adding that he wants the three members of Parliament who were charged to be exempt from the amnesty.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev held talks with representatives from the group of former VMRO-DPMNE members of Parliament, in what they referred to as “reconciliation”. Most of the group of eight are charged for various crimes, directly or through political associates and family members, and VMRO-DPMNE said that their votes to open the process to amend the Constitution are driven by bribes and blackmail.