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News 14 Apr 16

Macedonia Prosecution Defies Pressure to Open New Probe

Despite the President’s decision to scrap all criminal proceedings against politicians, the Special Prosecution, tasked with probing high-level crime, has opened a fresh investigation.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonian Special Prosecutors | Photo by: MIA

Macedonia’s chief Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva on Thursday said her work was far from over and that her team was investigating more cases of alleged crime.

“We are here and we are working… I believe that justice will prevail,” Janeva told a press conference attended by several EU ambassadors in Skopje.

She added that President Gjorge Ivanov “will have a lot of work” in front of him if he continues pardoning more officials suspected of grave crimes.

The Preisdent caused shock earlier this week when he abruptly pardoned all politicians being investigated in connection with mass eavesdropping claims.

The Special Prosecution said it disputed the President's right to pardon them or prosecutors themselves.

In February, the office faced a series of criminal charges alleging that it had put pressure on potential witnesses. The charges were widely deemed a form of pressure against the newly formed institution.

The pardoning of prosecutors “directly influences their honour and reputation” putting them in the same basket as corrupt officials, Deputy Prosecutor Lence Ristoska told the press conferrence.

The Special Prosecution also said it had opened a fresh investigation in a case codenamed “transporter”.

The case alleges misuse of €360,000 of budget money that was transferred to the Municipality of Bitola to pay for the bus transport of school pupils for two school years.

“This was probably the most expensive transport for pupils that Bitola ever paid,” Deputy Special Prosecutor Fatime Fetai said.

Bitola Mayor Vladimir Taleski, who comes from the ranks of main ruling VMRO DPMNE party, is among the persons being investigated, the Special Prosecution said.

During the press conference, Fetai referred to a illegally wiretapped conversation, published last year by the opposition, which contains the voice of Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski saying that Taleski’s dealings over the transport payments were “totally corrupt”.

Ambassadors of EU countries were present at the press conferrence | Photo by: MIA

The press conference was attended by the German, British, Italian, Czech and other ambassadors from EU countries in a show of support for the institution, which was formed last February as part of an EU-brokered political crisis accord.

When Ivanov on Tuesday abruptly pardoned all politicians facing crime investigations as well as their associates, he immediately undermined the work of the Special Prosecution and cast a question mark over its future.

His decision caused angry protests on Tuesday and Wednesday that resulted in attacks on Ivanov’s office in central Skopje. Civil activists and opposition supporters have announced more protests, demanding also that Ivanov rescind his decision and resign.

The President's move has been criticized also by the EU and US as subverting the rule of law.

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