Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Macedonia Opposition Figure in Police Custody

Zoran Zaev, Strumica mayor and vice president of the main opposition Social Democrats, who has been accused of abuse of abuse has been taken to a detention facility.

The Skopje District Court ruled that Zaev is to remain in police custody for the next 30 days. The Court overturned an earlier decision by an investigative judge that Zaev should not be detained.

The Trial Chamber of the Court changed its decision after a second appeal from public prosecutors, who insisted that Zaev alongside five aides should be in police custody as they could influence witnesses in the case.

A large number of Strumica residents gathered late Sunday outside the City Hall to voice support for their mayor and to express outrage at court's decision to arrest him.

“Unfortunately from day to day we become a state of precedents. Macedonia is the only country in the world where despite two decisions of the investigative judge not to order detention, the trial chamber changed that decision,” said Social Democrats' leader Radmila Sekerinska.

“This kind of thing happens only to members of the opposition and those that are successful but do not think the same as the ones in power,” she added.

Zaev and his aides were arrested on 17 July and they were brought to Skopje Court . The court initially decided not to detain Zaev while the Social Democrats claimed that the whole case was a provocation by the parties in power. Zaev was mentioned as one of the possible successor's to Sekerinska after she announced she was stepping down over the party’s crushing defeat at the June 1 general elections.

The only electoral district in which the opposition did not suffer a strong defeat at the polls was the one in which Zaev led the party candidates’ list.

Zaev along with four others is accused of abuse of office over a tender for a local shopping mall in the south-eastern town of Strumica where he is mayor.

In protest over his arrest the Social Democrats launched a boycott of parliament. If they keep up their action, the parliament will practically be left without any opposition lawmakers as last week, the main ethnic Albanian opposition, the Democratic Party of Albanians also left the assembly arguing they will return when the issues concerning greater rights for their community are addressed properly.

In June the ruling centre right VMRO DPMNE-led coalition beat the Social Democrats by winning 63 deputy seats while the Social Democrats alliance secured only 27 out of the 120 parliament seats.

The new government was voted in parliament during the weekend.

No comments: