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News 29 Jun 17

Macedonia Prosecution Seeks Ex-PM Gruevski's Arrest

Macedonia's Special Prosecution is seeking the arrest of VMRO DPMNE party leader and former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and several of his closest associates on electoral fraud charges.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
 
 Chief Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva. Photo: MIA

The Special Prosecution, SJO on Thursday announced charges in 17 cases, demanding the arrest of former premier Nikola Gruevski, former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska, former Transport Minister Mile Janakieski, former government secretary-general Kiril Bozinovski and Gruevski's former cabinet chief Martin Protugjer.

All of them were indicted on Thursday for masterminding and participating in an election fraud.

The SJO also demanded detention for Gruevski's cousin and former secret police chief Saso Mijalkov in relation to the cases codenamed "Target" and "Tvrdina" [fortress], former Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska Milevska in relation to the case codenamed "Tender" and former Vice Prime Minister Vladimir Pesevski, indicted in the case "Traektorija" [trajectory].

In addition, the SJO also demanded detention for the mayor of Skopje's Gazi Baba municipality, Toni Trajkovski, and for the editor of Sitel TV, Dragan Pavlovic, who is charged with tax evasion.

The SJO pressed charges in 17 cases at two days before the expiry of its July 1 deadline for raising charges. 

The total number of newly-indicted people today is 94, while charges have also been raised against seven legal entities.

Macedonia's former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski [centre]. Photo: MIA

SJO chief Katica Janeva told a press conference in Skopje that despite the expiry of the deadline for raising charges, its work in investigating the ongoing and new cases will continue throughout the next three years, as the Law on Special Prosecution envisages.

Gruevski Reacted Angrily to the Indictments

"This is a classic political and anti-Macedonian construction" aimed at taking down some 100 people from the VMRO DPMNE's top leadership, he told a press conference.

"The historical responsibility of those who are now riding on a wave of euphoria and think that this petty pleasure will last forever will soon be proven," Gruevski added, saying that his party will stop being cooperative opposition.

Formed in autumn 2015 as part of an EU-sponsored crisis agreement, the SJO has so far pressed charges in 20 cases but is also working on more than 120 investigations and pre-investigation procedures.

Most of them concern officials from the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party, which took power in 2006 and last month went into opposition.

The SJO has managed in the past year-and-a-half to listen to some 45 per cent of the wiretapped conversations that the now ruling Social Democrats, SDSM handed over to it, and only a portion of those have been thoroughly analysed for possible criminal allegations.

Janeva once more expressed hope that the country's politicians will find strength to lift the deadline which starts in two days.

But parliament is unlikely to do so in near future in the face of strong VMRO DPMNE opposition.

The VMRO DPMNE, controls 51 of the 120 seats in parliament, which means that without its votes, it is impossible to muster a two-thirds majority needed to prolong the deadline.

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