What did Martin Protugjer want for Zoran Bozhinovski in detention?

Bozhinovski is detained, Protugjer’s threats should stay in the phone conversation. Photo: Zoran Bozhinovski’s Facebook profile

The Macedonian journalist Zoran Bozhinovski, who is extradited to Macedonia and will be detained, could also be subjected to torture behind bars, according to what we heard in the “bombs”.

Namely, in the 32nd set of the wiretapped conversations SDSM had made public, in a conversation between Gordana Jankuloska (Minister of Interior at that time) and Martin Protugjer (longtime Head of Prime Minsiter’s Office and General Secretary of VMRO-DPMNE), we hear that Protugjer is interested as to whether when Bozhinovski is imprisoned, he could visit him in the prison with the camera turned off.

M.P. Ah, look, I’m now reading what Zoran Bozhinovski had written. When he will finally be behind bars, will I need his consent to come to visit him in the prison?
G.J. Yes, if you’re not his relative, certainly. Ha-ha.
M.P. We are not related.
G.J. I most certainly hope so.
M.P. Well, I’m not his relative, but I want to visit him. With the CCTV camera turned off in that time.
G.J. What has he done to you?
M.P. Nothing personally… But I’m furious over the rubbish he writes, argh…
G.J. He’s such a moron, he’s sick. I…
M.P. Rubbish, fabrication… I can’t see how…
G.J. In my opinion, he’s sick.
M.P. Just because he’s sick, it must…
G.J. I mean, deranged, you know, lunatic.

Protugjer has clear requests about Bozhinovski’s cell mate.

And definitely, definitely he should be placed in a cell with some homosexual Gypsy. That’s definite, we should talk no more about that.

We could hear similar intentions from Sasho Mijalkov (then director of Administration for Security and Counter Intelligence) when talking about Ljube Boshkoski in the conversation with Dragan Pavlovikj – Latas (Editor in chief of Sitel TV), also heard in the “bombs”. Mijalkov is clearly speaking about Boshkoski’s humiliation and harassment during his arrest, but also that he can’t hope for better in the prison:

SM: He was lying down for 40 minutes, everybody was watching.
DPL: Wow, wow, wow.
SM: They turned him with the head towards the toilet, with cuffs on. People were watching.
DPL: Wow, wow, wow.
SM: I f***ed him right, what else can I tell you.
DPL: Let’s see him gibber now.
SM: …..What?
DPL: Now he and Velija will hang around together.
SM: They’ll celebrate victory with Velija.
DPL: Yes, yes, yes.
SM: This will amount to eight years [imprisonment], you should know.
DPL: Look, he’ll spend 30 days with Velija, and afterwards we’ll see.
SM: What thirty days!? He won’t be out until ordered to serve his sentence; there’ll be no thirty days, what’s with you.
DPL: No, no. I meant he’ll be with Velija for minimum thirty days.
SM: Don’t know, but I’ll send a well gifted person to f**k him inside. Velija can’t f**k him good. What about that?

These and the other threats we could hear, are a clear signal for prospects of torture, which is absolutely prohibited. Namely, the term “torture”, according to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), “means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession”.

This convention, ratified by Macedonia and Serbia, also points out that persons who will most likely be subjected to torture must not be extradited. This imposes the question whether this extradition violated UNCAT.

In addition is Article 3 from the Convention, dedicated to this issue.

Article 3.

  1. No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

  2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Regarding the fact that the ruling party is VMRO-DPMNE, which has Mijalkov and Protugjer as high executives, at this moment the institutions must make the utmost efforts in order to prevent the threats from becoming a reality, so UNCAT will not be violated.

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This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.