Government’s PR or enforcement of justice?

On November 13, the day when former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski announced that he had fled to Budapest, the Special Public Prosecutor Katica Janeva, claimed to the Macedonian public that there was no reason to demand detention for his cousin Saso Mijalkov.

“There are already measures for Saso Mijalkov and he respects them, as Nikola Gruevski did, he appears in court and we thought it was enough. Now we have to make new estimates, but I do not think that the prosecution would ask for Saso Mijalkov to be detained,” said Janeva immediately after Gruevski’s escape.

Hours after Gruevski announced that he had already received political asylum in Hungary, the SPO demanded, and the judge, Djaneta Begovic, decided to order Mijalkov’s detention for the key subject of the SPO Fortress Target for the mass wiretapping. The decision for the detention order stated that there was operational information that Mijalkov undertook actions and activities that pointed to flight risk.

The SPO reported a letter from the Financial Intelligence Directorate that Mijalkov owned 11 million euros on two accounts that were on behalf of another legal entity and individual, but there were information that they were actually his accounts.
There is no official explanation why the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office has decided to seek detention for Mijalkov now, although the public have known for a long time that the former head of the UBK owned businesses and property abroad, or specifically in the Czech Republic.

He is also charged with the latest investigation opened by the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office dubbed Empire, but despite his business relations with the richest Macedonian businessman Orce Kamcev who ended up in Sutka on the evening when Gruevski was supposed to hand himself over for serving his prison sentence, the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office did not ask for detention. Regarding the evidence in this case, defendants in the Empire case damaged the budget for over 6 million euros and seized over 10 million euros.

What is officially known is that the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office asked for custody yesterday and Judge Begovic, who leads the Target-Fortress case, ordered 30-day detention for Mijalkov due to flight risk.

“Detention could be ordered against a person for whom there is a reasonable doubt that he has committed a criminal act, if the person is hiding, if the person’s identity cannot be established or if there are other circumstances that obviously indicate flight risk,” the article of the Law states for the criminal procedure under which Mijalkov was detained.

Mijalkov was not brought yesterday from the Sutka prison to the court, so the hearing for the mass wiretapping was postponed. The judge did not issue an order for this due to the short period of time for submitting a request for the conduct. But the judge demanded that Mijalkov be brought from prison to court for the next hearing that is scheduled for December 4th.

Mijalkov’s  defense announced that he will appeal the detention order. Lawyer Antonio Apostolski claims that the court acted unlawfully in determining detention because he did not inform him and did not hear him.

The former chief of the secret police was detained on the evening of about eight o’clock in his hotel Marriott in the center of Skopje. So far, no footage has been released to the public since his arrest or from the police escorting him to the Sutka prison. The Prison Administration says that Mijalkov was housed in an ordinary cell with other detainees and that he had the same treatment as other prisoners.
This move by the SPO comes after having made the impression in the public that the two defendants, the main accused of crime and corruption that have been going on in the past years, will get away and will not take responsibility.
However, there is a dilemma whether this is the final awakening of the institutions, the implementation of justice and fulfillment of the SPO’s promise that in Macedonia nobody is “untouchable” or the detention for Mijalkov is part of the government’s PR.

Professor Zdravko Saveski, who is part of the governing structures of the Levica party, thinks that the government is trying to reduce public anger over Gruevski’s escape.

“His detention is not enough. The authorities must bear responsibility for Gruevski’s escape. The Minister of the Interior must resign, due to political and moral reasons, and sanctions must be imposed against those persons in the Ministry of Interior, the prosecution and the judiciary that enabled Gruevski’s escape through “collective sleep”, says Saveski.
However, it is a fact that the detention of senior officials from the previous government began after the escape of Gruevski. Immediately after his escape, former Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Janakieski and former Secretary General of the Government Kiril Bozinovski ended up in detention. The SPO announced that they planned to run away just like their boss.

The former head of the secret police is the fifth accused for the mass wiretapping and equipment destruction, a case that led to the formation of the SPO.

Frosina Fakova – Serafinovic