A total of 23 investigators, judicial police officers from the Ministry of Interior and the Financial Police Office assisted prosecutors from the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office to collect evidence and bring the suspects to trial. Economic advisers, together with investigators and prosecutors, analyzed documents with accounting books, annual accounts, transactions from domestic and foreign banks, determining the value of the property, its origin and the flow of money for its purchase.
They even participated in the financial investigations and searches and in collecting evidence with investigators. Depending on the cases, prosecutors were assisted by at least two investigators, and there were cases involving as many as five of them.
All the work, not only the prosecutors’ work, but of other Special Prosecutor’s Office staff may “go down the drain”, as all cases are now moving to the regular Public Prosecutor’s Office and it is not yet known whether the same prosecutors will handle them and what will happen to investigators and other staff in the institution.
The Special Public Prosecutor’s Office has not yet received a written letter from the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, meaning no one has formally requested them to hand over their cases, prosecutors reported in a letter to the public. But in most of the statement, prosecutors write that after the detention of their boss, Katica Janeva, the entire institution is in chaos, and the institution’s mandate is until September next year, one additional year to Janeva’s term that is expiring on September 15th.
“We would like to reiterate our concern over the fact that so far no public prosecutor has been appointed to replace Janeva, nor has a new legal solution been adopted regulating the status of this Public Prosecutor’s Office. We remind that the SPO’s mandate expires on September 15, 2020, as long as the employment of the Prosecutor’s Office staff and the current obligations of the institution continue. Lack of regulation on what will happen to employees, current obligations, archives and materials available to the Prosecutor’s Office, in a situation where there is no head of the institution, will lead to real problems in the realization of employment rights of employees and completion of the institution’s obligations, as well as the lack of control over the implementation of security procedures related to all materials available to the prosecution”, the Special Prosecutor’s Office said in a written statement.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is aware that the system created by SPO must not collapse, but it depends not only on him, but also on his yesterday’s interlocutor, Hristijan Mickoski.
“The state, the international community, as well as friendly countries have invested in the system. The system is not just prosecutors. The system also has another 92 employees there – expert staff, expert administrative service, the system is made of all those people. The system is also the purchased computers, archives, desks. All this is of value for which the citizens gave their money, and several countries also helped. I believe that the future of the whole system should be taken into account. We must find ways to achieve it, said PM Zaev.
According to the latest statement of the State Prosecutor Ljubomir Joveski, the prosecutors that will deal with cases of the SPO will be known after the cases are taken, and the possible adoption of the Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office.
According to Joveski, the Council of Public Prosecutors should decide after September 15th on the status of the public prosecutors and their return to their original prosecution offices, given that their posts in those public prosecutor’s offices were put on hold.
If a new law is adopted, the possibility for prosecutors to handle cases is not ruled out. However, at present, the Prosecutor’s Office for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption, the prosecution which should account for most of the events in the SPO, has at its disposal nine investigators temporarily assigned to the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. There are no investigators in the Skopje Prosecutor’s Office, which could take over some of the cases.
In the legal show that occurred after Janeva was sent to detention as a third suspect in the “Racket” case, the most favorable solution for all Special Prosecutor’s cases to be kept alive is the adoption of a Public Prosecutor’s Law, which according to the government is no longer urgent after Janeva handed over the cases to Joveski. This draft law envisages that the entire SPO team be transferred to the new institution, the Prosecutor’s Office for Fighting Organized Crime and High Corruption, which will combine the best of both the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and the SPO.
Handing over the cases to the regular prosecutor’s office opens up a legal opportunity for the institutions to show that they are ready to solve the SPO cases, as the regular prosecutor’s office will now be able to handle cases opened after the disputed deadline, ie the Supreme Legal Opinion of the Supreme Court will not apply, which has declared the SPO incompetent to open investigations after June 30, 2017, that is, to “pardon” part of DUI officials, including suspects in the “Empire” case, where businessman Orce Kamchev, the main suspect, who has the main role in the “Racket” affair.
President of the Judicial Council Kiro Zdravev says that the SPO cases, no matter what stage they are in, should receive appropriate court-prosecutorial conclusion.
“For cases that are already in court, there should be a proper verdict. For other cases to be taken up by the regular prosecution, appropriate prosecution decisions should be made. The fact that the prosecution takes over the cases makes the original legal opinion of the Supreme Court misplaced”, Zdravev said.
The announced takeover of the case constantly delays the SPO trials in the Criminal Court, the trial for the “Transporter” case was postponed yesterday. The judge handling the case, Dobrila Kacarska, says that this decision has captured the judiciary.
“I hope that in the next few days, this whole situation will be resolved. With the decision to take over the cases, the entire judiciary has been captured and the SPO cases cannot be put to trial. We cannot conduct the trials because there may be a violation of the procedure”, said Judge Dobrila Kacarska.
Defendants’ lawyers maintain that there is no legal basis for the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office to hand over the PPO cases because the SPO was solely competent to prosecute offenses stemming from the so-called “bombs”.
“According to the SPO Law, they had the opportunity to take over cases from the PPO and such cases were taken over four years ago. What is the legal logic to return those items to the PPO after four years? The SPO law does not give Janeva the opportunity to delegate these cases to any other prosecution”, says lawyer Sanja Aleksic.
Yet no one in the SPO knows what will happen, whether their work will go down the drain or whether they will continue to prosecute, it depends on the politicians.