Time: 6:55 p.m. CEST
In a very dramatic moment, one week before the scheduled visit of the European Commissioner on Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, newly elected special prosecutors announced first cases.
The Special Prosecution held a news conference in Skopje today to announce first cases that the team of prosecutors led by Katica Janeva, an elected and appointed special prosecutor, disclosed to the public. The main developments at the news conference according to the materials present to the media and publicly disclosed on the Special Prosecution’s Facebook webpage are the cases for the electoral misconducts. The name of the case is “Titanic.”
But, at first Janeva said that the team of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office opens “criminal proceedings in 10 cases about election, voting rights and freedoms of residents, general safety and property, as well as criminal offenses against official duty and country.” The prosecutors would like to prevent such cases for the future, Janeva explained in Skopje.
A prosecutor Fatime Fetai introduced the cases for which the prosecutors opened an investigation against several persons for crimes related:
- Violation of the right to vote (Article 159 of the Criminal Code), criminal association (Article 394 CC),
- Violation of the freedom of voters (Article 160 of CC), bribery at election and voting (Article 162 CC),
- Destroying of election materials (Article 164 CC) and
- Misuse of funds for financing election campaign. (Article 165 CC)
As Fetai stated, “the suspects Minister of Interior, Minister of Transport and Communications and General Secretary of the Government of Macedonia in 2012, along with others unknown persons created a group, with a goal in committing crimes against elections and voting.” Fetai says that in a “full criminalization of the electoral process with illegal identity cards and adding voters on the voter’s list.” Fetai explained that the prosecution determined that some people had been photographed in the city, received ID cards in another city or in municipality “Centre.”
The prosecution says it found 15,000 new ID numbers, which are not belonging to some newborns. It also has knowledge about 35.000 ID cards, which are still at the Ministry of Interior and are not taken by anyone. Fetai said that, the prosecution counted 60.000 more residents of Macedonia. In terms of the diaspora and consular offices of Republic of Macedonia abroad, the prosecution would open new case. According to prosecutors’ information, former Minister of Interior, used human and technical infrastructure “to compile voters’ lists with the interest of the party from which it comes.”
Fetai explained that after the residents had ID, they voted with the new documents and permission of the electoral authorities, although they reside in another municipality. As Fetai said, all that was supported with finances of illegal and undeclared sources. Further, the prosecutors opened an investigation against five judges of the Administrative Court in Skopje and four former members of the State Election Commission in 2013 for a crime, abuse of power (Article 353 CC.)
Another prosecutor Lence Ristoska said, “it is certain the investigations will expand.” Ristoska informed the prosecutions initiated pre-investigative proceedings in the case of “Magyar Telekom” and submitted letter about public affair “Hope,” which according to media writings in the past, relates to the former president of Macedonia.
Ristoska explained that the prosecutors are reviewing the materials delivered by SDSM from the intercepted conversations and it will prepare statistical review, part of a report SP should enclose to the Parliament.
Thus, Janeva requested from the Assembly to amend the law on witness protected to show the need of the prosecution. She requested that the courts turned to the SP the cases, which are under jurisdiction of SP without resistance and delays. As third request, Janeva asked that the Council of Public Prosecutors “adhere to existing legislation and fully respect the autonomy of the special prosecution.”
Reactions after the news conference reflects the polarization in political circles in Macedonia after the disclosures of the reported intercepted conversations, on which some of the today’s mentioned officials earned the suspect mentions. One person E.T. with a dual citizenship is arrested today in Resen during the news conference.
VMRO-DPMNE reacted with a statement to the news conference of the Special Prosecution and said that “will not support illegal and unconstitutional activities. Each body and each institution must act within their powers, as no one is above the Constitution and the laws.
“Attacks on the Council of Prosecutors, a body which is responsible for overseeing the Special Prosecution,” DPMNE said. “Today we saw a political performance, which included many marked persons. Party officials, indirectly judged at the news conference, have not done any crime and they will prove it in the following procedure,” the political party reacted in a statement after Special Prosecution said former officials are now a suspects in several cases.