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Macedonian court sentences 6 men to life imprisonment for lakeside killings

SKOPJE, June 30 (Xinhua) -- One Macedonian court sentenced six men to life imprisonment on Monday for killing five fishermen more than two years ago.

The court, following a 18-month trial, found Alil Demiri, Afrim Ismailovic, Agim Ismailovic, Fejzi Aziri, Haki Aziri and Sami Ljuta guilty of terrorism. The killings occurred in April 2012.

The court said that the killings were planned and executed in "vicious manner".

Two of the convicted, Alil Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic were sentenced in absentia because they are serving sentence in Kosovo prisons.

The defense lawyers said that no firm evidence were presented against their clients and said that they will appeal in higher court.

During the trials the prosecutor said that the convicts committed an act of terror in a bid to provoke ethnic strife and tensions.

Five ethnic Macedonians were found killed near a lake close to capital Skopje. The lakeside killing fuelled ethnic tensions and provoked series of violent protests as the then suspects are ethnic Albanians, while the victims were all ethnic Macedonians.

About 25 percent of the 2.1 million population in Macedonia are ethnic Albanians, living in the western part of the country.

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