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Macedonian Police Arrest More Than 30 Over April Violence At Parliament


Injured Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev is escorted out of the parliament in Skopje on April 27.

Macedonian police say they have detained dozens of people -- including a former interior minister, former police officials, and conservative opposition lawmakers -- over violence at the parliament building in April.

The public prosecutor's office says it issued an order early on November 28 for 36 people to be detained in connection with the incident, in which protesters stormed into parliament and more than 100 people were injured.

The detainees were brought to Skopje's criminal court for questioning and charged with posing a "terrorist threat to the constitutional order and security," which carries a minimum prison sentence of four years.

Among those detained is former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov, who was responsible for police security around the parliament. He is suspected of not giving timely orders to the police to prevent the crowds from invading parliament.

Also detained were several lawmakers from the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party.

The VMRO-DPMNE, led by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, described the arrests as "political persecution" and demanded the release of the suspects.

Several hundred protesters stormed into the parliament building on April 27 after the opposition Social Democratic Union and others representing Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority voted for a new speaker.

The protesters attacked journalists and lawmakers, including the opposition leader, Zoran Zaev, now the acting prime minister.

With reporting by AP and dpa
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