Detention Refused for Macedonia Election Fraud Suspects

Former ministers suspected of organizing election fraud are to remain at liberty while the Criminal Court in Skopje decides on the complaints of the Special Prosecution, which disputes the court’s decision not to detain them.

Mac Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva by MIA 800
Macedonian chief Special Prosecutor, Katica Janeva | Photo by: MIA


The Criminal Court in Skopje has until Thursday to answer complaints filed by Macedonia’s Special Prosecution over the Court’s decision last Friday to leave ministers suspected of election fraud at liberty. The eight suspects, including two former ministers, were questioned about fraud allegations over the weekend but left the court as free people. The Skopje Court said it had formed a council comprised of three judges that will review the complaints and give its decision. If the council rejects the complaints, the Special Prosecution has the right to again seek detention for the suspects, but only once it gathers more evidence.

Meanwhile, the Special Prosecution has said it is continuing work on the case it has called “Titanic”. The Special Prosecution at a press conference last Friday said it suspected that the former ministers and senior officials organised fraud during the elections in 2013.
The Criminal Court later summoned former police minister Gordana Jankuloska, former transport minister, Mile Janakieski and the government secretary general Kiril Bozinovski, all members of the government of VMRO DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski who stepped down as Prime Minister in January as part of an EU-brokered crisis agreement.
A political leader of the ethnic Macedonians in Albania, Edmond Temelko, was also summoned to the hearing and was not detained either. The suspects in the “Titanic” case are suspected of several offences, from criminal association to violation of electoral rights, violation of the freedom of voters, bribery during elections and voting, destruction of electoral materials and misuse of assets during election campaigns.
The Special Prosecution, which has been set up to probe allegations of high level crime and corruption, said it is also investigating judges and members of the State Electoral Commission at the time. The case against the ministers, the first made since the formation of the Special Prosecution last autumn, comes against a backdrop of continuing crisis in Macedonia. The turmoil revolves around opposition claims that Prime Minister Gruevski ordered the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including his own ministers. The opposition Social Democrats started releasing batches of covertly recorded tapes of senior officials’ conversations last February.

The opposition insists that the tapes contain incriminating evidence against many senior officials, including proof of high-level corruption, the government grip’s on the judiciary, prosecution, businesses and media, politically-motivated arrests and jailings, electoral violations and even an attempted cover-up of a murder of a man by a police officer. Gruevski, who has held power since 2006, and stepped down last month under an EU-brokered agreement, says the tapes were “fabricated” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilise the country.

Balkans Insight 

17 February 2016