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News 02 Apr 13

Macedonia Police 'Missed Evidence Into Journalist’s Death'

A Macedonian daily newspaper says it has uncovered potentially important evidence that the official investigation into the death of journalist Nikola Mladenov missed.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Photo by: Darko Duridanski

The Nova Makedonija daily says it found four road toll fiscal receipts at the crash site on Saturday - four days after the official investigation at the site finished - which contain time stamps and locations that may prove crucial in filling in blank spots concerning Mladenov’s death.

“The investigators did not find them [the evidence] because they were probably under the vehicle that was retracted on Wednesday evening,” the daily said, adding that they will submit the receipts to the police.

Judging by the time and the location of the tolls written on the receipts, the daily concludes that, on the fatal night, Mladenov probably drove twice from Skopje to Veles and back at high speed.

His colleagues have told the daily that he sometimes drove around on the highway simply to “blow off some steam”.

The daily says it also encountered other parts of the car and items probably belonging to the journalist that the investigation also did not pick up.

News of Mladenov’s death on the highway near Skopje entrance shocked the nation. The owner of the critically inclined weekly, Fokus, was a fierce critic of the political class that has led Macedonia since its independence.

The meagre police report on the car crash left many details about Mladenov’s death unanswered, causing some to suspect foul play.

On Wednesday, police kept journalists from reaching the immediate site of the accident. The investigation at the site lasted for five hours.

The short police report says only that Mladenov’s vehicle “crashed into the metal fence, and then veered off the road and overturned”, as well as that his body was given an autopsy.

But it remains a mystery where Mladenov spent his last evening and who he last saw or talked to.

The autopsy yesterday officially confirmed that no traces of alcohol or drugs were found in Mladenov’s blood.

Meanwhile, the existence of both the weekly Fokus and the daily are still in question, as both operated under constant financial pressures and threats of expensive lawsuits. The family is expected to reach a decision on the future of the papers this week.

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