Macedonia Special Prosecution Charged With Crimes

Macedonia’s Special Prosecution, tasked with probing illegality in high places, has denied wrongdoing after a barrage of criminal charges allege it has pressured potential witnesses.

Specijalno obvinitelstvo - BIRN

The Special Prosecution formed in Macedonia to investigate allegations of high-level wrongdoings and corruption has flatly denied allegations that its members have intimidated or molested potential witnesses and thus abused their office. In just a week, seven criminal charges against different members of the team formed byChief Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva, have been filed with the Basic Public Prosecution in Skopje. The Basic Prosecution in Skopje did not reveal the names of the plaintiffs but confirmed the criminal charges.

Pro-government media have speculated that deputy special prosecutors have been persuading police employees to testify by promising them milder sentences and tempting them to “save their own skins”. The prosecution “fully deny published media allegations that prosecutors… have breached the law during the procedures, and that such alleged actions have been ordered by [chief prosecutor], Katica Janeva”, a press release said. The Special Prosecution told BIRN that it will hold a press conference soon regarding the latest criminal charges.
A former member of the State Anti-Corruption Commission, Dragan Malinovski, said the criminal charges were another form of pressure brought to bear by the country’s embattled authorities. They come after the Special Prosecution experienced financial problems and probes to the work of its head by the Prosecutor’s Council. “The goal of this strategy is to push the Special Prosecution on to the defensive, and instill unrest and uncertainty among its ranks, which would seriously diminish its capacity for effective management of the [corruption] cases,” Malinovski told Deutsche Welle. “It will have to endure all these pressures and threats and focus on its work,” Malinovski added.
In a recent speech, the leader of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party, the recently resigned Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, accused Special Prosecutor Janeva, as well as provisional ministers from opposition ranks, of being part of a conspiracy to remove him from office and harm the country. “We encourage party leaders to refrain from attacks on public officials,”  EU Ambassador Aivo Orav and US Ambassador Jess Baily said by way of response.
The Special Prosecution was formed as part of the EU-brokered crisis agreement reached this summer aimed at ending the deep political crisis in Macedonia. The crisis revolves around opposition claims that covertly recorded tapes which it has been releasing since February show Gruevski was behind the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including ministers. They insist that the tapes contain incriminating evidence against many high-ranking officials, including election fraud and abuse of the justice system and media.
In November, the Special Prosecution said that the allegations about “falsifying personal identification documents and breaches of electoral rights”, concerning Gruevsk as well as former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska and former Transport Minister Mile Janakieski, would be among the first cases it would investigate.

Balkan Insight 

4 February 2016