An investigation into the ‘Extortion’ cases lasts too long, according to many legal experts, and a key figure in the affair Katica Janeva, the outgoing chief of Special Prosecution Office, has yet to be questioned, the Balkan Insight (BI) website reported.
A month into the probe of the case which destabilised the Government of North Macedonia and in which Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was mentioned, legal experts and lawyers told BI that the investigation was making inexplicably slow progress and questioned why in such a significant case, the prosecution had failed to summon Janeva.
“The investigation should have reacted much sooner. It should have summoned Janeva for questioning; that is the least they could have done,” a lawyer in Skopje has told BI on condition of anonymity.
Another Skopje lawyer said that there were enough incriminating indications that had it been an ordinary person, they would already have been questioned, their passport seized or even detained.
BI said it contacted three lawyers on Thursday, and each agreed that the investigation was running extremely slowly.
The website said that the Prosecution for Organised Crime started the investigation in July into the case that had undermined the credibility of the Special Prosecution, set by the Social Democrat-led government which took power in 2017 on an anti-corruption pledge.
Two suspects, Bojan Jovanovski, known as Bole 13 and his accomplice, Zoran Milevski, were apprehended the same day.
BI reported the two were “suspected of extorting money from businessman Orce Kamcev, who is himself a suspect in another case run by the Special Prosecution, codenamed ‘Empire’.“
They allegedly took cash from Kamcev, promising him help to either avoid a jail sentence or get a lighter sentence, “by using their alleged influence with the Special Prosecution.”
Prosecutors seized Janeva’s phones to check if she had any communication with the two suspects. “One phone was seized immediately while the other was found at a relative’s home – after Janeva initially reported it lost,” BI quoted the prosecution as telling the media, adding that “the second phone was formatted with the data deleted from it.”
On Wednesday, the investigation said Janeva’s phones and the rest of the electronic equipment related to the case were still being examined.
However, the Italian La Verita newspaper started publishing recorded conversations between Kamcev and Jovanovski in which Janeva’s voice could also be heard. She confirmed that was her voice, but said she talked with Kamcev about another case which she did not identify, adding her action was legitimate.
Jovanovski’s voice was also assumed to have been recorded mentioning his acquaintance with Zaev, telling Kamcev that Prime Minister wouldn’t cause them any problems.
Zaev has vehemently denied any involvement in the affair.
“Publication of the recordings caught the Organised Crime Prosecution off guard as its chief, Vilma Ruskoska, was on vacation. At the time of the publication, Janeva was also on her summer holiday. Both returned to their offices this week amid calls for a faster investigation into the whole matter,” BI reported.
The investigation, according to the website, included three senior employees from Janeva’s office, including her cabinet secretary.