Friday, June 22, 2007

Court delivers first verdict in wiretapping case

In the first verdict in the case of wiretapping scandal stemming from 2000, the court ordered that almost 100.000 euros be paid to journalists who have sued the state.

The Skopje-based Criminal Court on Friday partially upheld the demand for exclusive remedy for 17 journalists whose mobile phones were wiretapped.

The court tasked the Ministry of Interior and Macedonian Telecommunications to pay 350.000 denars each to journalists.

The journalists were displeased with the remedy and said they would appeal court's ruling.

The court found that Interior Ministry and Telecom are in possession of eavesdropping equipment. The court also found that wiretapping did take place and it was at the expense of journalists. A total of five judges run the seven-year-long trial.

Meanwhile, the journalists brought the case to the Strasbourg-based Court of Human Rights, complaining of unreasonably lengthy proceedings in the national court.

The wiretapping scandal, known as Big Ear, broke in 2000, when the then opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski unearthed transcripts of wiretapped phone conversations of politicians, journalists and diplomats.

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