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Macedonian court jails 6 over Easter lake killings

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SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — A Macedonian court has convicted six men of murdering five fishermen in a lake near the capital Skopje in an alleged plot to destabilize the country, and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

Monday's ruling followed an 18-month trial, in which prosecutors said the defendants sought "to create fear ... and instability in the country."

The Easter 2012 shootings fueled simmering tensions between Macedonia's Christian Orthodox majority population and the mostly Muslim ethnic Albanian minority. The defendants were all Muslims, and the victims Christians.

Defense lawyers said no material evidence was presented against their clients, who deny the charges and have appealed their convictions.

Two of the defendants were tried in absentia, because they are serving jail terms in neighboring Kosovo over illegal weapons charges. A seventh suspect was acquitted.

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