On 31st of October 2003 at the main hearing of the trial of the Metropolitan of Veles and Povardarje and Exarch of the Serbian Patriarch for all dioceses of the Ohrid Archbishopric, regarding the accusation by the public prosecutor in Bitola against the Metropolitan that he had committed the felony of "autocracy" by entering the Church of St. Dimitry in Bitola in order to baptize his sister's daughter. Following his closing argument, the judge Misko Stojkovski of the Primary Court in Bitola passed a verdict that the Metropolitan John is guilty and sentenced him to one year imprisonment if he commits the same or similar felony during the next two years.

In his closing argument, Metropolitan John emphasised that this was a political process and that the public prosecutor was committing a crime by violating the Constitution of the R. Macedonia, placing the religious communities and the citizens of the R. Macedonia in an unequal position. The public prosecutor protects the schismatic organisation which calls itself "Macedonian Orthodox Church" and violates the human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of R. Macedonia to all the members of the Ohrid Archbishopric and also to the Metropolitan John.

During the trial, and especially on the last day when the closing argument was given, the aforementioned judge rudely insulted the Metropolitan and did not allow the things he said at the trial to be put in the official record. When the Metropolitan John declared that this was a political process he was rudely told that such a thing cannot be written in the record because he was tried for "autocracy" and not political pursuit. The Metropolitan answered that by stating that no trial in history was ever treated as political during its course but is characterised as such later on. He was forbidden and denied to dictate his closing argument and his words were paraphrased for the record by the judge. This was noted by OBSE observers and was recorded in their report. So, from the beginning to the end, the process was conducted inappropriately.

But the most notable thing in this event was the fact that the civil court in Bitola was not at all competent to judge the Metropolitan John for two reasons. First, according to the Constitution of the R. Macedonia, the Church is separated from the state, meaning that the state and the judiciary must not interfere with internal church matters. Second, according to article 14 of the Law on religious communities and religious groups, "Decisions made by the bodies of the religious communities have no authority outside the religious community and private documents of religious communities do not have the significance of public documents".

According to the Criminal Law of R. Macedonia the felony "autocracy" means that this is "someone who assumes authority, which he considers is justly his, through violent methods". In this case the Primary Court in Bitola did not have jurisdiction to decide on this because the authority in the Church according to the aforementioned law considering religious communities and religious groups is of internal character and is relevant only within those communities. It would have been different, just as the Metropolitan explained, if those decisions were made or certified by some state organ, as it is done in Greece or Great Britain, where the election of the Metropolitan is certified by the President or the Queen, respectively.

Besides the fact that he considered the Civil Court in Bitola incompetent in this dispute, the Metropolitan John gave his defence which, in short, consisted of the fact that he is recognised as an Orthodox Metropolitan by all of the local Orthodox Churches in the world. He did not appoint himself as Metropolitan but was given the title by decision of the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He enclosed written correspondence with Metropolitans of other Orthodox Churches which clearly stated that he is referred to as Metropolitan of Veles and Povardarje and Exarch of Ohrid by everyone. He stated that beginning from 22 June 2002 he is no longer a member of the schismatic organisation which calls itself "Macedonian Orthodox Church". Therefore no decision made by this organisation following that date is valid. He has also proved that by enclosing the decision made by the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in September 2002 where all the decisions made by the schismatic organisation regarding Metropolitan John were declared worthless.

Regarding the alleged use of force, all the eyewitnesses confirmed that the Metropolitan John did not use any force nor did he hurt anybody, either verbally or physically. When the public prosecutor realised that his accusations were unsuitable because all the witnesses testified that no there was no use of force, he changed his closing argument saying that by nodding his head the Metropolitan gave a sign to someone else to use force. This, of course, failed to be confirmed once again because none of the witnesses testified to such an event except Dusan Talevski, the keeper of the Church of St. Dimitry in Bitola, who admitted that the Metropolitan did not even once look at him but allegedly gave a signal for others to protect him in order not to let Dusan come close to him.

The witnesses claimed the opposite; that the police were the ones to use force by arresting the Metropolitan and four others present in the church to the baptism of the daughter of Metropolitan John's sister. The police had assaulted the Metropolitan's uncle and he had been transferred to hospital and later released with a list of minor physical injuries.

But it was obvious for everyone that the Court was not interested in the facts and legal evidence. Just as the Communists once ran such political trials against their enemies with a verdict decided even before the trial had begun, such was this case where the verdict was reached even before the hearing had started.

Also, the so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church is a communist creation of the ex-communist state. The communists have ravaged the Church everywhere but only in the then Socialist Republic of Macedonia did they create and organise one. They did this for two reasons; first, so that they can reduce the influence the Serbian Orthodox Church in former Yugoslavia, and second, to control the Macedonian anti-communist Diaspora through the Church because the state was unable to do that with its means.

Their bishops are certified communist personnel because they would not have been appointed to be bishops if it had not been allowed by the communists.

According to international sources on illegal state actions and court credibility, R. Macedonia claims the 90th position out of 102 total. R. Macedonia is the worst of the Balkan states and is followed only by countries like Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. In terms of foreign investments it is also the last in the region, but considering religious rights it is convincingly at the bottom position in the world, following even Saudi Arabia. There the laws governing religious beliefs are strict and rigorous but at least they respect what their Sheriat law allows. In Macedonia neither constitutional rights nor laws considering religious liberties are respected.

Metropolitan John is expecting a new trial on "impeding public order and peace" which is legal but not criminal charge. But regardless of all, his only guilt is in trying to bring his people in unity with the Orthodox Church throughout the world.