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High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Bribery and racketeering involving the Special Prosecution Office - High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Bribery and racketeering involving the Special Prosecution Office

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Introduction

On 15 July 2019, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecution of Organised Crime and Corruption filed an indictment against the head of the Special Prosecution Office Katica Janeva, the owner of a TV station Bojan Jovanovski and businessman Zoran Milevski for taking a reward for unlawful influence.

Country
North Macedonia
Sector
Public institutions
Offence
Abuse of official position or authority
Phase
1st instance verdict

Description of the case

On 15 July 2019, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecution of Organised Crime and Corruption filed an indictment against the head of the Special Prosecution Office Katica Janeva, the owner of a TV station Bojan Jovanovski and businessman Zoran Milevski for taking a reward for unlawful influence.

According to the charges, Jovanovski used his influence over Special Prosecutor Janeva from November 2018 to April 2019 to enable local businessman Orce Kamcev to gain his release from custody and recover his passport. At the time, Kamcev was in custody as a suspect in the Imperija case under investigation by the Special Prosecution Office (SPO).

The third defendant in the case, Milevski, acted as Kamcev’s handler and arranged contacts with Jovanovski. After Kamcev, through his wife, paid half a million euro to Jovanovski and Milevski, Janeva proposed that Kamcev be transferred to house arrest, which was then accepted.

Subsequently, Kamcev paid another €1 million to have his passport temporarily given back to him, which Janeva and the SPO approved.

The prosecution said that Janeva used and exceeded her official position and authority and obtained €50,000 and furniture worth around €5,000, while Jovanovski and Milevski received €1.5 million. The allegations against Janeva and subsequent dismantling of Special Prosecution Office point to capture of the judicial system.

The trial started on 3 December 2019, with one defendant, Milevski, admitting guilt. He was sentenced to three years in prison for taking a bribe.

The time spent in procedural phases of the trial was unusually long and raises questions about the performance of the prosecutor. For example, investigative activities were stopped for three weeks when Public Prosecutor Vilma Ruskovska and her team went on holiday.

In a first-instance verdict issued on 18 June 2020, the Skopje Criminal Court found former head of the SPO Katica Janeva guilty of abuse of office and sentenced her to seven years in prison. Businessman and TV owner Bojan Jovanovski was found guilty of taking bribes and laundering money and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

As the Skopje Court of Appeal is yet to reach a final verdict in the case, both Jovanovski and Janeva were under house arrest as of November 2020.