Macedonia Files Terror Charges Over Parliament Attack

Macedonian prosecutors have filed charges against 30 people, including a former interior minister and several opposition lawmakers, for their alleged involvement in the storming of parliament by demonstrators nearly a year ago.

The public prosecutor's office on March 27 charged ex-minister Mitko Cavkov and 27 other people with "terrorist endangerment of the constitutional order and security."

They face minimum jail sentences of 10 years if convicted

The suspects, who also included five deputies from the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party and senior officials of the Interior Ministry, "caused an act of violence, thus putting in danger the lives of lawmakers, journalists, officials, and employees in parliament and creating a feeling of insecurity, danger and fear among citizens," the public prosecutor's adviser, Elizabeta Nedanovska, told a press conference in Skopje.

Two other people were charged with complicity.

No date has been set for the trial.

The attack on parliament on April 27, 2017, occurred amid high political tensions in Macedonia as the former ruling VMRO-DPMNE attempted to stop the Social Democrats from forming a government with ethnic Albanians.

More than 200 protesters, some wearing masks, stormed the building after the new majority in the legislature had elected an ethnic Albanian, Talat Xhaferi, as its speaker, paving the way for the formation of a government led by the Social Democrats.

Police outside the building fired stun grenades in an effort to disperse protesters and clear the way for the evacuation of lawmakers.

The European Union, the United States, NATO, and several Balkan countries condemned the violence, in which nearly 100 people were injured including police officers and lawmakers. The leader of the Social Democrats, current Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, was among those injured.

With reporting by Balkan Insight