Macedonia: 38 police, 1 protester hurt in overnight clashes

AP News
Posted: May 06, 2015 1:23 PM
Macedonia: 38 police, 1 protester hurt in overnight clashes

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Violent clashes overnight between protesters and police in the Macedonian capital Skopje left 38 officers and one protester injured, while 30 people were detained, authorities said Wednesday.

Six of the officers were hospitalized with serious injuries, Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska said.

"It was a brutal attack on the police," she said, adding that protesters threw eggs, bottles and stones and used metal bars to beat police.

The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe voiced concern at the violence, urging restraint from police and protesters alike.

"The right to peacefully gather and protest is a constitutionally guaranteed right of all citizens in the country," Ralf Breth, head of the OSCE mission to Skopje, said. "However, such protests should not be marred by violence."

More than 1,000 people gathered late Tuesday in front of the government building to protest the 2011 death of 22-year-old Martin Neskoski, who was killed in a police beating during postelection celebrations.

The clashes broke out hours after Macedonia's opposition leader accused the country's conservative prime minister of attempting to cover up Neskoski's death.

Social Democrat head Zoran Zaev on Tuesday released dozens of audio recordings he says are from illegal wiretaps, in which people purported to be Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the country's intelligence chief, its interior minister and other officials discuss how to cover up the killing.

The recordings are part of a series of wiretaps Zaev has been releasing over the past few months amid Macedonia's most severe political crisis in years.

Jankulovska described Zaev's claims as "monstrous" and accused him of abusing the death of a young man to achieve his own political goals.

Zaev has accused Gruevski of being behind the illegal wiretaps of about 20,000 Macedonians, including journalists, judges, foreign ambassadors and members of the government. He says unspecified people gave him the recordings, which he has been releasing to the public and the media.

Gruevski has denied all accusations, countering that the wiretaps were done by unspecified foreign spies and accusing Zaev in turn of plotting a coup.