Two former officials accused of collaborating with Communist-era Yugoslavia’s secret police have had their names cleared.The administrative court in Skopje overturned a preliminary ruling by Macedonia’s Lustration Committee that former ambassador to Poland, Petre Nakjovski, and former state security service official Hetem Ejup Ademi had been secret police collaborators during Communist rule in the former Yugoslavia.
Nakjovski, who was accused on the basis of what were said to be documents from the 1960s, said that the court’s decision to uphold his appeal showed that he was innocent.
He told journalists that the documents which the commission described as proof were actually “planted forgeries”.
The head of the Lustration Commission, Tome Adziev, promised that it would reopen its files to see whether a mistake had been made, but said he was convinced that its preliminary ruling would hold.
“[The court’s objections] refer to the formal and legal aspects and do not change the essence of the rulings of the commission,” Adziev said.
If the commission in its final decision again rules that the men were collaborators, they have the right to a further appeal before a higher administrative court.
Macedonia is following in the steps of many former Communist states that have brought in lustration laws as a way to address past injustices stemming from politically-motivated prosecutions.
Parliament passed a first lustration law in 2008 and a second one in 2012 after the constitutional court scrapped many key provisions from the original legislation, narrowing its time span and the range of professions to be subjected to checks.
Unlike the first law, which at the beginning enjoyed wide support, the more recent legislation was adopted only on the basis of votes from the ruling VMRO DPMNE party of prime minister Nikola Gruveski.
The lustration process has also been marred by controversy. Civil rights activists and the opposition have argued that it has turned into a selective witch-hunt against government critics – a view rejected by Adziev.
“Some power centres wish to portray in public that we are chasing collaborators in a selective manner. They will not succeed. Lustration will continue at an even stronger pace this year,” he insisted.
However in recent weeks, the commission has been rocked by resignations.
In December, two of the 11 commission members, Janakie Vitanovski and Blagoja Geshoski, quit their posts.
Explaining his decision to resign, Vitanovski said that lustration had “become the government’s instrument for the tendentious and selective stigmatisation of its critics”.
The government’s insistence that it only wants to see past injustices addressed has not silenced such criticism.
Macedonia’s Helsinki Committee for Human Rights has contested key provisions of the 2012 law before the constitutional court, arguing that they are largely the same as those previously scrapped.
A group of intellectuals has also sued legislators from the ruling parties and Macedonian President Gjorgje Ivanov for voting for and approving provisions in the new law that were previously struck down as unconstitutional.