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Macedonian Nationalist Gets 4 Years Prison For April Assault On Lawmaker

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (C) and Defense Minister Radmila Secerinska (R) meet with U.S. troops during a joint military exercise

A Macedonian nationalist was sentenced to four years in prison on October 12 for physically attacking a legislator during a melee that broke out after conservative protesters stormed the parliament building in April.

A court in Skopje convicted Pance Angelov, 65, of assaulting Radmila Secerinska, a former member of parliament who is now Macedonia's defense minister, as demonstrators protested the election of an ethnic Albanian as the parliament's new speaker.

About 100 demonstrators broke through a police cordon on April 27, entered the parliament and attacked legislators in protest over the election of Talat Xhaferi.

The rampage, which was videotaped and widely shown on television, injured 100 people, including 10 lawmakers.

Social Democratic leader Zoran Zaev, who has since become prime minister, was severely beaten during the rampage and Secerinska was pulled by the hair.

During his trial, Angelov admitted his guilt and apologized for what happened.

In May, nine other Macedonians received suspended prison sentences for their part in the violence.

The protesters, supporters of ex-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservative VMRO party, had been demanding new elections.

They stormed parliament over fears that moves to improve the status of ethnic Albanians threatened Macedonian unity.

Ethnic Albanians make up around a quarter of the country's population.

The appointment of Xhaferi paved the way for the election of a new opposition-led government.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP