Monday, April 19, 2021

North Macedonian jails ex-Special prosecution chief in bribery case

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A court in North Macedonia on Thursday sentenced ex-Special Prosecution chief Katica Janeva and showman-turned-businessman Bojan Jovanovski to seven and nine years in prison respectively for their roles in the so-called “Extortion” case.

In a first-instance verdict, the Skopje Criminal Court found Katica Janeva, former head of the Special Prosecution, SJO, guilty of misuse of office and sentenced her to seven years in jail minus time spent in detention.

Businessman Bojan Jovanovski, the first accused in this case, was found guilty of taking bribes and of money-laundering. His sentence was nine years in jail minus time spent in detention.

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The court found that Jovanovski had used his influence with Janeva from November 2018 to April 2019, while she headed the Special Prosecution, to get one of the wealthiest people in the country, the businessman Orce Kamcev, out of detention and regain his passport in exchange for 1.5 million euros.

Kamcev was detained at the time as a suspect in another investigation, codenamed “Empire”, instigated by Janeva’s Special Prosecution.

The two defendants had pleaded not guilty and claimed they were victims of a masterful operation designed to discredit the Special Prosecution and rescue those that the SJO had once prosecuted.

Janeva was not in court to hear the verdict. Jovanovski heard the verdict looking composed and reacting with an occasional smile as the judge read out the explanation of the verdict.

After hearing the sentence, Jovanovski addressed the court, insisting that the judgment was a “political decision” and that he had expected to be pronounced guilty.

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The “extortion” case erupted about a year ago in North Macedonia, ruining the credibility of the Special Prosecution, which was established in 2015 amid a political crisis in order to restore faith in the country’s discredited judiciary.

The affair also shook the government led by the Social Democrats who had strongly supported Janeva and the SJO in the past. The trial in this explosive case started in December last year.

One day after it started, the trial saw its first verdict when the third accused, Jovanovski’s former associate, Zoran Milevski – who admitted guilt – was sentenced to three years in jail for taking a bribe.

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