Bulgarian Court Refuses to Extradite Renegade Priest to Macedonia
Sofia's Court of Appeal denied to hand over the Serbian orthodox priest Jovan Vranisovski to Macedonia on Tuesday.
Vranisovski was arrested in Bulgaria on November 17 2010 based on an international police order.
The detainee's 40-days term of arrest expired on December 28 2010. He has a an active 2.5-year sentence in Macedonia,for abuse with church money estimated at EUR 250 000, which is why he has left the country. The abuse has allegedly taken place in the period 1998-2002.
According to Vranisovski's defenders, the above mentioned sum has been the Macedonian Orthodox Church's whole budget for this period, which, they state, makes the claim impossible.
Vranisovski himself has claimed that the sentence against him has political grounds.
Formerly, Jovan Vranisovski acted as a cleric in Macedonia, but presented himself as the Exarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country.
The problem is that the Macedonian Orthodox Church split from the Serbian in 1967 and is not recognized by it as a separate ecclesiastical entity.
The Serbian Orthodox Church regards the self-proclaimed Macedonian Church as schismatic and sees its territory as falling under its Ohrid Archbishopric.
This is why Jovan Vranisovski's activities were seen as encroaching in Macedonia, all the more that an Ohrid Archbishopric is not a registered religious entity in the country.
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