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News 07 Nov 17

Macedonia Narrows Down Search for Chief Prosecutor

Macedonia’s search for a new chief prosecutor, who faces the challenge of restoring faith in the discredited institution, has boiled down to two candidates, one of whom should shortly be selected.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Prosecutor Ljupco Joveski. Photo: MIA

Only two of the 23 candidates for the vacant post of Macedonia's chief prosecutor have passed the first filter at the prosecutor’s council, prosecutor Ljupco Joveski and professor Elena Andreevska, reports indicate.

Unnamed sources from the prosecutor’s council cited by Telma TV said these two had received a green light from the council and have been submitted to the government who should now pick one name and propose it to parliament for adoption.

The government and prosecutor’s council on Monday neither confirmed nor denied the claims.

Ever since candidacies for the vacant post were submitted in early October, prosecutor Joveski was considered the favourite by some legal experts and media because of his known knowledge of matters.

“The 63-year-old Joveski, although not widely known to the public, is well known and respected by his colleagues,” the daily Fokus noted in September.
 
“His former and current colleagues describe him as a true professional who has worked in the judiciary for four decades. They say he is quiet and calm and knew how to stand out when the profession required it,” Fokus continued.

Joveski’s CV states that he was appointed a judge of the Skopje Basic Court 2 in 1996. After seven years in this post, in 2003 he became prosecutor.

Joveski’s last appointment was as member of the prosecutors’ council and he was one of ten deputies to the former chief prosecutor, Marko Zvrlevski.

From what is officially available about his financial state from the State Anti-Corruption Agency, Joveski’s seems to have built up only modest assets from such a successful career – one flat, one current vehicle, plus an old "Yugo" car from 1994 and no significant financial savings.

The second candidate, Elena Andreevska, comes from ranks of university professors. She teaches at the Faculty for Administration and Political Sciences at the South Eastern Europe University.

She is a specialist in penal and criminal law as well as in international law. Her biography states that in 1998 she completed her post Ph.D studies at the University of Oxford. Data about her financial state are not available as she never worked as a public servant.

Judging by the shortcomings in the prosecution's and judiciary's work in the past, including the selective application of justice noted in many reports issued by watchdogs and by Brussels and Washington, the new chief prosecutor faces a struggle to restore faith in this institution.

He or she must curb political interference in the office's work and end the practice of blocking the work of the Special Prosecution, SJO, which was formed in 2015 to investigate high-level crime.

The previous chief prosecutor, Zvrlevski, was dismissed in August, shortly after the new Social Democrat-led government came to power in May. He was accused of being too close to former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his then ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

He was accused also of taking a selective approach to dealing with the many corruption accusations made against Gruevski's government.

Under Zvrlevski, the SJO failed to open proper investigations against many then top government officials who had been accused of wrongdoing.

The new chief prosecutor will also be under pressure to speed up the investigation into the violent episode seen in parliament on April 27, when a group of VMRO DPMNE supporters then stormed the building in an attempt to prevent the election of a new speaker. The mob attacked and injured some 100 people, including MPs.

The new chief prosecutor needs the backing of at least 61 of the 120 MPs to be elected. The term in office lasts six years.

The government is expected to propose the new prosecutor to parliament within the next few weeks.

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