Government buries the SPO

Government buries the SPO
Erol Rizaov

The Special Prosecutor's Office, the brightest star of the Macedonian criminal transition, the only independent state institution that legally brought down the corrupt regime of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, is condemned to disappear. The SPO will be buried in due time, according to the reforms in the justice system announced by the government. Once the investigations and cases of illegally wiretapped conversations have ended, the SPO will be immersed in the regular public prosecutor's office. This announced death and the lawful killing of the justice against the untouchables means that the prosecution of organized crime at the peak of any future power is diluted to complete destruction of the main substance that was supposed to restore the trust in the rule of equal law for all. The government in the latest judicial reforms shows no readiness for major changes in the foundation for the construction of a law-abiding state.

It is difficult to rationalize why Zoran Zaev’s government makes this major mistake, because at the moment it is the biggest failure precisely for the government itself that is preparing to start the negotiations with the EU and to apply the recommendations from the Report of Reinhard Priebe in practice. Hiding behind the fact that the SPO will continue the investigations of wiretapped conversations, because there is still work on high-level corruption cases, is a thin justification that more closely resembles the blurring of the essence of the need to continue the work of the SPO with even greater powers and more greater autonomy and professionalism in their basic work prosecuting organized crime and corruption at the top of all current and future authorities, and not just the previous government, where there is still no judicial epilogue due to the strong and powerful centers and obstruction of justice.

If VMRO-DPMNE and its ranks can still hinder justice, even though they are no longer in power, what happens to those in power and have all mechanisms for decision-making and influence. Or maybe the judicial reformers of the Ministry of Justice want to say that organized crime and high-level corruption ended with the fall of VMRO-DPMNE. Such a thing would not be tried by anyone in Scandinavia, where the smallest corruption and cases of cooperation between criminals and the government, and not in the Balkan state with the greatest corruption and least detected cases in the past year, even less than the time of Gruevism. Some hastened to present this as if we handled corruption, but very soon it was revealed that this actually meant that all the mechanisms for controlling this greatest evil in Macedonia had been sidelined. Research shows that crime and corruption do not end, but their detection and prosecution are reduced.

It does not hold even the justification for such a step that legal changes in the prosecution are being prepared in cooperation with foreign experts under the auspices of the US Embassy. No one will hinder Macedonia if it wants to strengthen the fight against crime and corruption in the high echelons of the government and powerful centers of business. The proposals to increase the powers of the Special Prosecution, following the example of those in Romania and part of that in Croatia with a special agency for investigations of illegally acquired property and unpaid taxes, would have been a complete hit for the state and for restoring confidence in the judiciary, and finally a great plus for the government that it really opted for the independent functioning of the institutions of the system and the rule of law. If the SPO received special police and judicial units, with a greater number of prosecutors and experts, experts in the investigation of organized crime and corruption, and if a special unit was formed to investigate the origin of property of people from the top of the government and the most powerful officials and business people, this would have been greeted by foreign experts, and not just serve to justify that this is an ideal solution, which has a visa from foreign experts.

The extension of the competencies of the SPO to an important independent institution for prosecuting criminals and unjust wealth of top state officials would have caused a positive impact both on the regular public prosecutor's office, and on the existing units for prosecuting organized crime that have worked under strong pressure from the authorities in one most of them were partisan, with evidently ordered court verdicts with many years of work of political opponents and competitors in the mafia business. Such a move would cause a positive impact on the entire justice system, increase the reputation of the state and influence the improvement of the current disastrously bad perception of corruption in Macedonia.

In judicial reforms in the Special Public Prosecutor's Office, what is most disappointing is the attitude of the Ministry of Justice regarding the extension of the SPO deadline to bring new charges against high-ranking officials. Deputy Minister of Justice, Oliver Ristovski, in an interview with Nezavisen/Independent newspaper, said: "It is illusory to extend a deadline that has stopped a long time ago." I do not know what the deputy minister wants to say with this, but this looks like a diversion to judicial reform. The same claim for the expired term of the SPO was Mihajlo Manevski’s strongest trump card, the legal party strategist who partisated the judiciary. At that time, the SPO relied on the biggest opponents and accused of crime and corruption and abuse of power from the top of VMRO-DPMNE. From the determination of the Ministry of Labor to transform the SPO into the grayness of the justice system, only the position of the current top of VMRO-DPMNE, which is captured in the cartridge of Gruevski and his closest associates, who are in courtrooms every day, is still as an opposition the party cannot perceive the significance of the SPO with new and greater competencies in prosecuting crime and corruption at the top of this government as well.

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski and President of the State Gjorge Ivanov behave as protectors of criminals from the previous government, but also as supporters of the intention to dismiss the SPO. It's amazing how Mickoski refused to shoot ten penalties against the government with strong support for increasing the authority of the SPO. He cannot do this because he would have to go against the criminals, which have led the state to this level that brought the country among the most corrupt in Europe.

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