site.btaNext Hearing in Case against Bulgarian Culture Club Chair Lyupcho Georgievski to Take Place on October 9

Next Hearing in Case against Bulgarian Culture Club Chair Lyupcho Georgievski to Take Place on October 9
Next Hearing in Case against Bulgarian Culture Club Chair Lyupcho Georgievski to Take Place on October 9
Lyupcho Georgievski (left) and his lawyer Nasser Raufi (BTA Photo)

With the questioning of prosecution witnesses, the case against the chairman of the defunct Ivan Mihailov Bulgarian Cultural Centre in Bitola, Lyupcho Georgievski, began on Friday in the Republic of North Macedonia. Georgievski's lawyer Nasser Raufi said that the charges in this case are for hate speech and for spreading xenophobia and racism through posts on the association's Facebook page. Among the prosecution's witnesses was Lambe Alabakovski, who was convicted for burning of the Cultural Centre door in Bitola, but will be questioned at the next hearing.

"These are witnesses who are direct participants in the protests against the Ivan Mihaylov Club in Bitola and even the convicted for the arson of the club Lambe Alabakovski. It is clear that these witnesses are bias," Raufi said after the hearing.

One of the witnesses - the chairman of the Union of the fighters of the national liberation and anti-fascist struggle of Macedonia 1941-1945 - Bitola spoke about the definitions of "war-dog" for IMRO leader Ivan Mihaylov, written in the documents of the ASNOM 1942. He admitted that he had not personally read the posts on the Facebook profile of the association, but when he was told about them, "felt anger". The other witness, a police officer who wrote a book in which he researched the Jewish heritage of Bitola, answered questions about which part of the city the Jews of Bitola lived in, in particular whether there were Jewish houses on the street that houses the now closed Ivan Mihaylov Club.

"It did not follow from the questioning of these two witnesses that Lyupcho Georgievski was the perpetrator of what he was accused of", the lawyer said. "These were explanations by laymen who do not have the competence of historians or researchers and the prosecution had no explanation as to why these two witnesses were called." At the beginning of the hearing, the lawyer asked to be provided with the evidence on the charges against Georgievski, as this has not been done so far. 

In Raufi's words, what he had seen beforehand were quotes by Ivan Mihaylov, displayed in the premises of the Cultural Centre, "which is logical, since the association bears his name and was officially registered at that time". As for the posts on the association's Facebook page, according to Raufi, these are comments by various people which, as an administrator, Georgievski could not have prevented from being written.

"Obviously it is an incomprehensible and unsupported accusation. There's an old saying that if politics comes in through the door, the truth must go out the window," Raufi stressed.

During the hearing, the judge banned mobile phones in the courtroom and banned anyone from taking photographs or recording. After questioning the second witness, the hearing was adjourned and the next hearing is scheduled for October 9.

After the hearing, Georgievski said he was not worried that the purpose of the trial was "to bring back those dark times of 1949 when free expression was punishable by law."

/DT/

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By 06:38 on 04.03.2024 Today`s news

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