North Macedonia: 4 jailed over 2017 parliament attack

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — A court in North Macedonia on Monday sentenced the country’s former parliamentary speaker and three other senior officials over a violent attack against parliament in 2017.

A panel of judges sentenced former Speaker Trajko Veljanoski to 6½ years in jail. The former ministers of transport and labor ministers, Mile Janakieski and Spiro Ristovski, were each sentenced to six years and three months. And former senior intelligence official Vladimir Atanasovski received a six-year sentence.

The attack took place during post-election political unrest in April 2017 when about 100 nationalist demonstrators, some wearing masks, stormed the parliament building in North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje.

The protesters sought to prevent the election of a new parliamentary speaker.

All four defendants had been found guilty of endangering national security.

Also facing trial over the parliament attack is the former conservative prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, who fled the country in 2018 and was granted political asylum in Hungary.

Dozens of journalists and lawmakers were injured in the parliament attack, including then-opposition leader Zoran Zaev, head of the Social Democrats, and the current prime minister.

The conservative opposition has described the legal action against the officials sentenced Monday as unfair and politically motivated.

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