Prime Minister Zoran Zaev took the witness stand at the Skopje-based Criminal Court on Friday to testify in the trial against the alleged organizers of the violent storming of Parliament on April 27, 2017.
He expressed as witness opinion that defendants Mile Janakievski, Spiro Ristovski, Trajko Veljanovski and others were not the primary organizers of the storming, stressing that they were manipulated by ex-PM Nikola Gruevski.
“None of us want to see an incident like this happen again and the trial will ensure this. I don’t think Mile Janakievski, Spiro Ristovski, Trajko Veljanovski and the other defendants were the masterminds behind the storming,” Zaev told the Court.
He added that the indicted were manipulated by the main organizer, Nikola Gruevski.
“I don’t think they organized the event. They were manipulated by Nikola Gruevski. I was in Parliament that day and I know what happened. It’s not right they are tried for such a serious offence,” Zaev noted.
At the beginning of Friday’s hearing, the PM couldn’t provide much detail into the proceedings at Parliament’s constitutive session on April 27, 2017, saying only that it ended with the election of the new Speaker.
Zaev, who was summoned to testify in the trial as a witness for the defence, added that he attended the continuation of the constitutive session.
Asked whether he signed a motion to resume the session, the witness couldn’t recall the event precisely.
“It’s possible that as a leader of the parliamentary majority, I asked, together with other colleagues, that the session resumes,” Zave told the Court.
Judge Ilija Trpkov presides over the trial in the ’27 April’ case. Vilma Ruskovska is the prosecutor.
Defendants include former Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski, ex-transport minister Mile Janakievski, ex-education minister Spiro Ristovski, and former Administration for Security and Counterintelligence director Vladimir Atanasovski.
They are charged with terrorist endangerment of the constitutional order and security.