SKOPJE – Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia have been protesting for a few days demanding the release of six members of the Albanian community in the country sentenced to a life in prison.

RFE/RL video screenshot
RFE/RL video screenshot

The six Albanians were sentenced to life for a brutal murder of five Macedonians in Smilkovci, near Skopje, in 2012.

The Albanians demand that they be released because they believe they were convicted without proof that they had committed the crime.

The protests began in Skopje on Friday, when a violent clash between the police and the ethnic Albanians ended up in at least 20 police officers and demonstrators injured, and they spread to some other towns in Macedonia over the weekend.

The protesters used stones and the police utilized tear gas and water cannons.

The Albanians say they will continue their demonstrations, despite the international community in Macedonia – the EU, U.S., OSCE and NATO – releasing a joint statement urging them to refrain from violence.