October 21, 2013

The verdict on the case of the journalist Tomislav Kezharovski is a serious precedent

The Helsinki Committee has been following the case of the journalist Tomislav Kezharovski since the beginning and has already reacted twice regarding the imposition and extension of the pre-trial detention measure, stating that courts have adopted those decisions in a procedure contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

Moreover, there were irregularities during the trial: one of the judges, as well as some of the jury members and even the defendants were leaving the courtroom during the hearing, but the Chairman of the Judicial Council did not interrupt the hearing during their short absence. This contributes to a significant violation of the procedure. There was also a violation during the hearing of some of the witnesses, considering the fact that they were not informed of their procedural rights and responsibilities in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.

This morning, the Judicial Council of the First Instance Court Skopje 1, Skopje brought a verdict on the “Liquidation” case, sentencing the journalist Tomislav Kezharovski to a prison sentence of four years and six months. According to the Helsinki Committee, such a verdict represents a serious precedent, considering the fact that there is no other case in the region where a journalist has been sentenced to such a long prison sentence due to performance of journalist activities. In a situation where the freedom of the media and the freedom of expression in the Republic of Macedonia have been seriously jeopardized, such a verdict is another message to silence and censor all those who have a critical viewpoint and opinion.

In the view of the Helsinki Committee, the Public prosecution must immediately act and initiate a new investigation procedure in order to address the allegations that the protected witness in the “Oreshe” case obtained his status as a result of pressure by the police who allegedly prepared a forged statement that was presented as a statement made by the protected witness. If these allegations are confirmed, it will then turn out that Tomislav Kezharovski is the person who revealed a crime, and not a perpetrator of a crime. If this is the case, the epilogue of the “Liquidation” case would certainly be different than it is now.