As was widely expected, the Appeals Court nullified the sentence of Vasilije Avirovik, son of member of Parliament Vladanka Avirovik, from three years in prison to a “suspended” sentence.
Vasilije Avirovik was sentenced as representative of the Sileks company, along with businessman Sead Kocan who owns the Transmet company, after the two applied and won a contract to mine coal in the REK Bitola coalmine worth 17.3 million EUR. Both companies have media interests and were supportive of the now opposition DPNE party – Sileks runs the best watched Sitel television, while Kocan was owner of the now closed Nova television.
The case against the two was brought up by the illegal Special Prosecutor’s Office led by Katica Janeva and her team who have gone after hundreds of DPNE officials, activists, journalists and businessmen, based on unlawfully wiretapped and edited phone conversations. Kocan was originally sentenced to six years in prison and the pressure of the case forced him to shut down Nova TV, silencing a voice critical of the now SDS led Government.
Today, the Appeals Court reduced his sentence to four years and eight months in prison. Sitel drastically toned down its reporting and still faces pressure – three leading officials of the opposition Socialist Party, which is run by Sileks and Sitel owner Ljubisav Ivanov Zingo, were charged by the state prosecutors.
Avirovik’s case became especially prominent after his mother Vladanka Avirovik was forced to become one of the nine members of Parliament who voted in favor of renaming Macedonia into North Macedonia. She publicly stated she had to vote for the name change as Zaev promised her he would remove her son’s jail sentence.