A court in Skopje has sentenced seven ethnic Albanians to life in prison and another 26 were given long-term sentences after they were found guilty of involvment in bloody clashes with the police in the northeast Macedonian city of Kumanovo in 2015, in which eight police officers were killed.
A total of 22 people died in the incidents in Kumanovo on May 9-10, 2015, which was the worst outbreak of violence in the country since the inter-ethnic conflict between Macedonians and Albanians ended in 2001.
The prosecution office sought life sentences for terrorism and terrorist organisation for all 37 indicted in the case. Four people were cleared of all charges, news agency MIA reported on November 2.
Some of the defendants were ethnic Albanians from Macedonia, while others were from Kosovo.
One of the lawyers of the defendants said that the incident was a "scenario of the secret police" and that he did not expect those indicted to be given such lengthy sentences. The trial took place under heavy police protection.
The authorities believed that the group had planned large scale terrorist attacks in Kumanovo and other cities, aiming to destabilise Macedonia at a time of political tensions.
Several top Macedonian ministers and officials resigned immediately after the deadly battles between government forces and suspected terrorists as the country's political crisis deepened further.
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