Gruevski case: Justice Ministry preparing Documentation for extradition

The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecution of Organised Crime (BPPOPCC) and Corruption has started a pre-investigative procedure over former PM Nikola Gruevski’s escape to Hungary. “There are grounded suspicions that certain official persons, abusing their official position and authority, enabled the convicted person to illegally leave the Republic of Macedonia,” it said on Wednesday. The case has been given to a relevant prosecutor. Within the frameworks of the procedure, orders have been given to gather data about the case. The Justice Ministry is preparing the vast documentation about the extradition procedure that needs to be translated also in Hungarian, while the Interior Ministry is conducting control to see whether some people from the police helped the former PM escape. “It’s about vast documentation of around 400 pages. However, regardless of the number of pages, the request will be officially submitted to Hungary over the course of these days. The Internal Control Department is conducting a procedure about possible involvement of police officers in terms of them having helped him, while, moreover, the Skopje Internal Affairs Sector is determining the manner in which he escaped, as well as, potentially, outside persons that helped him,” Government spokesperson Mile Bosnjakovski stated. FM Nikola Dimitrov and his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, talked about the situation by phone. The former said “it’s about a convict against whom several other processes are underway”. Also, Dimitrov pointed to the paradox of political asylum in an EU member being sought by a person whose rule in a candidate country was characterised by the Union as a “captured state”. In the conversation, the Hungarian FM confirmed to his counterpart that Gruevski had already filed an asylum request and that the legal procedure had already started. As he added, the request is a legal issue, not a political one. “The Hungarian authorities will be acting in full accordance with international law,” Szijjarto noted. The same day, a group of 14 civil society organsiations joined the public condemnation of, as it said, the oversights by institutions. Also, it called for urgent and thorough investigations into the actions of the Criminal Court, but also for the Interior Ministry. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban was asked by how “a criminal from Macedonia” could illegally enter Hungary and why he wasn’t in the transit zone. “Ask the attorneys,” the Hungarian PM stressed, adding that he had no time for questions. The same day, Gergely Gulyas, Minister of the PM’s Office, confirmed Gruevski had given a statement in a Hungarian embassy, where he had filed an asylum request, without specifying which embassy. He just added that it wasn’t the one in Macedonia. Regarding the report by some regional media that Gruevski spent one night at the Hungarian Embassy in Tirana, after which he headed to Budapest from Tirana International Airport, the Embassy neither confirmed nor denied it. It told Top Channel TV that it didn’t “comment on processes that are underway”, taking as the point of departure the fact that the request was being reviewed in Budapest. Albania’s authorities confirmed for TV21 TV that Gruevski had fled via their country. As they added, at 7:11 pm on 11 November, the former PM left Albania at Hani i Hotit Border Crossing. He headed towards Montenegro and crossed the border with a vehicle owned by the Hungarian Embassy in Tirana with licence plates CD1013A. A statement from Albanian police said Gruevski was “a passenger in a car belonging to the Hungarian embassy” in Tirana, Albania’s capital, when it crossed the country’s northern border into Montenegro on Sunday evening. A warrant for his arrest was only made known to the Albanian authorities on Tuesday, the statement said. There is no information how Gruevski initially entered Albanian territory. The Montenegrin police confirmed that he had entered and left Montenegro’s territory the same day. “The Montenegrin police in this case fully respected the legal procedure,” they stressed. More details about how Gruevski entered the country and which border-crossing he used to leave weren’t revealed by them. Gruevski is still hiding in Albania, 24 TV said reported at around 10 pm, citing well-informed sources from Tirana. “According to our sources, it’s completely certain that Gruevski will flee Albania by sea and most likely head to Greece,” the TV station added.