North Macedonia to pardon violators of pandemic measures

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) -- North Macedonia is planning to pardon more than 1,200 people who face prison sentences because they have failed to pay fines for violating restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice Minister Nikola Tupancheski said the criminal court in the capital of Skopje has proposed the amnesty, noting there's not enough room in jails for those people.

"People who violated the COVID-19 measures were usually fined, as our criminal code stipulates. We are talking about more than 1,200 people for whom, if they do not pay the fine, in a short time the punishment will be transformed into a prison sentence," Tupancheski said.

He said the criminal court's amnesty proposal has been passed on to North Macedonia's parliament.

North Macedonia had imposed movement and other restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus since the first case of COVID-19 had been registered in February 2020. The measures included fines up to $2,072 for those who violated the curfew or protocols for a compulsory three weeks of isolation and wearing masks. Most restrictions were abolished in May this year but people must still wear masks in hospitals, pharmacies and on public transport.

The country's courts imposed fines on more than 6,000 people.

The amnesty will not apply to corporations or other legal entities found to have violated the pandemic restrictions.