Accountability for the mass wiretapping in Macedonia and high-corruption verdicts entered into the recommendations of the European Council as conditions for starting negotiations with the European Union.
The European Council set the stage for opening accession negotiations in June 2019, but European bureaucrats demand tangible, ie concrete results in the fight against corruption and judicial reform.
The conclusions of yesterday’s meeting of the European Council in Luxembourg explicitly require proactive investigations, indictments and final judgments in cases corruption and organized crime, including at a high-level, reform of the intelligence and security services and public administration reform.
“The Council welcomes the first concrete progress towards restoring the independence of the judiciary, improving the work of the courts and the follow-up to the work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, thereby starting to reverse the backsliding of previous years. The Council recalls the importance of continuing to establish legal accountability for the wrong-doings brought to the fore by the 2015 wiretaps, and the related failures of oversight, and that accountability for the attack on Parliament in 27 April 2017 must be established. The Council encourages the continued implementation of the judicial reform strategy and further efforts to address outstanding recommendations, achieve further tangible results and ensure that the judiciary can function independently”, the European Council said in the document.
A few years after the publication of the “bombs”, the change of power and the start of the trial against officials from the previous government, the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office received one of the six cases against former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, but he did not end up in prison because the verdict for the procurement of the luxury Mercedes, is not yet effective.
Only former Interior Ministry Assistant Interior Minister Gjoko Popovski was sent to jail, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for the procurement of police vehicles, and six-and-a-half years in prison for the acquisition of Mercedes.
The former intelligence officer, Goran Grujevski, was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, but this verdict was withdrawn by the Appellate Court. Gruevski, along with his colleague Nikola Boskoski, are walking freely in Greece after the Supreme Court refused to extradite them to Macedonia, where they should be tried for mass wiretapping.
Of the total of 14 verdicts pronounced on cases opened by the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office, ten people were sentenced to probation, four of which were convicted on the basis of a guilty plea in the case “Violence in Centar”.
The journalist Ivona Talevska got probation for tax evasion. Her colleague is still being tried, while the trials for most of the former officials who were charged are still ongoing.
The former head of the UBK, Saso Mijalkov, calls for the abolition granted by President Gjorge Ivanov, while the trials of his friend from the “bombs”, former Minister Gordana Jankuloska who is pregnant and should soon give birth, were postponed due to her high-risk pregnancy.
In one part of the document, the Council welcomes the first concrete progress in the direction of restoring the independence of the judiciary, improving the work of the courts and monitoring the work of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office, which begins to reverse the decline from previous years, but the SPO does not comment on the remarks of the European Union.
Those who have been in the courts for years and follow the work of the Criminal Court in Skopje, where the biggest trials are taking place and officials from the former government are being tried, believe that the judiciary has not been reformed and that there is no improvement.
“For many years, the same problems in the judiciary have been pointed out and the same recommendations are given in the judiciary. Aside from these recommendations, we also had the Priebe report, because reforms in the legal system have not been made. We faced huge, mass wiretapping, we established a Special Public Prosecutor’s Office and there are still no results,” says attorney Zvonko Davidovic.
He also notes that there is no solution to the crimes of the negligent work of judges and public prosecutors, and that there is no accountability for the framing of court cases.
“Nothing has been done, no personnel changes have been made. There is no accountability for the judicial council, there is no responsibility for anything, it is necessary to determine those matters and to be held accountable,” said Davidovic.
According to him, the procedures of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office move slowly, and the attorneys use every legal opportunity and right in favor of their clients.