The Basic Criminal Court Skopje at the end of the last week sentenced the two convicted in the “Javna Soba” (Public Room) trial to 4 years prison sentences. This group on Telegram was used for sharing private nude photos or videomaterials of girls and women from North Macedonia and abroad.
The group’s founder, Darko Kostovski and group’s moderator Mihail Panevski were found guilty of the misuse of photographs of naked women and girls including personal data (first and last names, telephone numbers, and personal addresses) and its distribution in the Public Room group on the Telegram social network. As a result, apart from their previous 13 months of house arrest, the court sentenced them to 4 years imprisonment.
In the charges, it was stated that both were found guilty of being responsible for the content – texts and audiovisual content that were distributed by the group’s members in the period between 19.12.2019 -28.01.2020. They were also charged with allowing the group to make content consisting of audio-visual material with sexual acts on a child available for group’ss members.
The court ruled that the house arrest measure against the accused Kostovski and Panevski to be extended until the verdict enters into force i.e. until they are sent to prison but no longer than the sentence because there is a danger of the accused fleeing.
The procedure behind clearing this case that the general public first heard about 2 years ago started after the numerous reactions by various NGOs and people that constantly shared information about the unsettling experiences due to the group’s activities.
The Public Room group is currently closed. Toward the end of last year, there were efforts of its activation at least three times. During that time, in a single day more than 200 people joined in and 61 photographs and 14 videos were shared, all misuses of other people’s content. The police reacted timely and as a result, the group and its content were blocked for the members.
In the case of “Public Room 2” a procedure was initiated and it’s in a preliminary criminal investigation phase.