The only official from the previous government who ended up in prison and was sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison, Gjoko Popovski, won a smaller legal battle. The Court of Appeal abolished the nine-year sentence for the former assistant minister in the Interior Ministry for illegally procuring 300 vehicles for the Ministry of Interior, sentenced by Judge Dobrila Kacarska on May 22.
The decision of the second instance court has not yet been published because it is still being prepared. The Court of Appeal does not disclose the reasons why the case is returned for re-examination, but did confirm that they have found violations in the procedure.
With the abolition of the verdict, Popovski’s obligation to compensate the damage to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of 28 million denars, which was determined in this case, is automatically abolished.
The former minister, who was unknown during the rule of VMRO-DPMNE, was revealed to the public after being charged and convicted in the cases of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office. He ended up in detention precisely for the case “Trista” (Three Hundred), when after reaching the verdict Prosecutor Fatime Fetai requested it, and the trial council, headed by Judge Kacarska, ordered detention.
Apart from the procurement of vehicles, Kacarska sentenced Popovski to six and a half years in prison for the purchase of the luxury Mercedes, a case in which former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was also convicted. Even before the validity of the verdict, Popovski asked to serve his prison sentence in the Idrizovo penitentiary. Hence, last week he was transferred to the detention unit in the Sutka prison. Poposki’s statement has left an impression to the public, who told the judges in the Court of Appeal that “if you cannot get the one responsible, catch the closest one to him”.
In his defense in the ‘Trista’ case, he pleaded not guilty and that the proceedings against him had seriously affected his health. He also said that in the past period he faced many threats, blackmails and pressures, but did not specify by whom. He complained that he had been given a leave from the Ministry of Interior with, as he stated, a suspicious disciplinary procedure.
Popovski in the “Tank” case was tried together with former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska and the former prime minister. Jankuloska was tried in a separate procedure because she became a mother and the verdict for her still is not valid, as for the former prime minister, who was sentenced to two years in prison, fled the country.
This is the second verdict in the cases conducted by the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office that was canceled by the Court of Appeal. The second-instance court last May canceled the verdict for the “Fortress 2” case, in which the former Chief of the Fifth Administration, Goran Grujevski, was sentenced in absentia. The Appellate Court found that the legal conditions for a trial were not met in the absence of Grujevski.
In the “Fortress 2” case, the former chief of staff, Goran Grujevski, and six employees at the UBK were the first to be charged. The defendants are being tried for falsifying and destroying official documentation related to the illegal wiretapping. The documentation is related to the two illegal wiretapping systems that, according to the SPO, were destroyed during 2014.
However, the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office did not consider the cancellation of the “Fortress 2” verdict as a defeat and then stated that it was cancelled due to a technical omission or error, but not because of a substantial omission in the indictment. For the cancellation of the verdict of the “Trista” case, the SPO will give a statement after receiving it, and there is neither a reaction from Judge Kacarska, who conducted the procedure.