Macedonia Court Rejects Key Evidence Against Former PM

At the start of the trial in Skopje on Friday, the court refused to allow the testimony of a witness with a concealed identity to be used as evidence, as well as the audio recordings of wiretapped conversations between former Prime Minister and ruling VMRO DPMNE party leader, Nikola Gruevski and others indictees.
During the hearing, all the suspects declined to be photographed and did not give statements. The next hearing has been scheduled for February 22.

There was also friction between judge Tatjana Mihajlova and deputy Special Prosecutor Fatime Fetai which marked the hearing.

"Would you like me to open my schedule book and allow you to schedule the trial?" Mihajlova remarked mockingly in response to Fetai's request for an earlier date for the next hearing.

On several occasions, the judge's remarks to Fetai caused laughter among Gruevski and some of the other defendants.

During the trial, Gruevski spent a lot of time speaking on his cellphone, despite the fact that cellphones were not allowed for the media representatives following the trial.

Gruevski's then Transport Minister Mile Janakieski also appeared along with 12 other people whom the Special Prosecution, SJO indicted for "incitement and carrying out a criminal act against public order".

While Gruevski, Janakieski and three others are indicted as the alleged instigators of the violence, other nine people stand trial for allegedly carrying it out.

The SJO, set up last year as part of the EU-brokered deal aimed at ending the country's political crisis and tasked with investigating allegations of high-level crime mainly concerning top officials from the ruling party, filed charges against Gruevski on September 15 after it said it had...

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