Following the protests in front of the Macedonian Government, the total number of arrested people is 42, out of which 12 people were sent to pre-trial detention, 1 person is in house arrest, 1 person is on the run, and 3 people are awaiting to be brought in front a judge who will decide whether they will be remanded. Among the detainees there are 7 students out of which 2 are representatives of the Student Plenum.
The Committee was contacted by the members of the Student Plenum and their families on 09.05.2015 with regard to their participation in the protest on 05.05.2015. According to the Criminal Code, Article 384, paragraph 1, the students are accused for “participation in a mob that will prevent a police officer performing his duty”. The penalty for this criminal act varies from 3 months to 3 years. Taking into account the maximum prescribed penalty – 3 years – this act is considered a lesser crime for which alternatives to pre-trial detention are usully imposed.
The pre-trial orders indicate that the judge did not take into consideration that most of the detainees have no prior criminal records. The judge did not look into possibilities for alternative measures. The Committee believes that the decision of the court is politically motivated due to the fact that the only reason for the pre-trial detention is a possibility to repeat the crime given the political crisis. These decisions serve as warning message to the rest of the citizens who would like to take part in the protests in the period to come. In comparison to similar violent protests, the Committee reminds the public about the protests that took place in 2014 against the Municipality of Centar. Although there were similar actions taken by the protesters, no one got arrested and no charges were brought for those involved. The Committee considers this an act of selective justice.
Furthermore, upon the request for information sent to the Ministry of Interior, the Committee was informed that yesterday, 13.05.2015, 4 more people were arrested out of which 1 minor who was released. The remaining 3 people will be brought in front of a judge under the suspicion that they committed the “participation in a mob that will prevent a police officer performing his duty” crime.
In conclusion the Committee appeals to the judges who decide upon the imposition and prolongation of the detention measures to take in consideration that this is a lesser crime which does not necessarily require detention, taking especially into account that most of the young arrestees have no past criminal record.