Seven Macedonian citizens, former fighters of the Islamic State who were fighting in Syria, and in August, last year were repatriated to the country, today confessed their guilt, announced the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“Today, at the Main Court Skopje 1, at the main hearing, seven Macedonian citizens accused of participating in a foreign army, paramilitary or paramilitary formations, entered guilty pleas. One person charged with the criminal offense of “Terrorist organization”, acknowledged his guilt and the charges brought against them”, the prosecutor said.
The seven Macedonian nationals and members of ISIS, were repatriated to Macedonia last August after being captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces. An investigation was conducted and an indictment was filed in October.
“The defendants, intending to become participants in paramilitary formations, left the territory of the Republic of Macedonia and went to train in Syria, where they participated as ISIS fighters in the wars in Syria and Iraq. The defendant charged with two crimes – Participation in a foreign army, paramilitary or paramilitary formations, and a terrorist organization was also a member of the terrorist organization “Islamic State”, the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced.
They also acknowledged that they encouraged and rewarded other people to fight for ISIS.
“In addition to participating in paramilitary formations outside the Republic of Macedonia, the defendants secured and collected financial and material means for individuals participating in these formations, and through social networks and other types of communication, recruited and encouraged other individuals to participate in paramilitary formations outside the Republic Macedonia”, reads the statement from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Macedonia amended its Criminal Code in 2014 and introduced a new Article 322, “Participation in a foreign war, police, paramilitary and paramilitary formations”. So far, 23 Macedonian citizens have been convicted of this crime, of which 16 were arrested in 2015 and in 2016, in police operations code-named “Cells 1 and 2”.