The Supreme Court of Macedonia, as the highest legal instance in the country, with the latest controversial legal opinion seems to have eradicated all hope that the regime of the fugitive Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski will face justice. After this decision, to all those thousands of citizens who chanted “No Justice – No Peace” while marching in the “Colorful Revolution” in support of a Special Public Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), it became clear that “peace” and “justice” here live on different streets.
Following an initiative by two former lawyers of the fugitive Gruevski, Elenko, Milanov and Boro Tasevski, the Supreme Court of Macedonia passed a legal opinion stating that the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office headed by Katica Janeva has no jurisdiction or authority after the first 18 months from the start of their work.
This 18 month deadline expired in mid-2017. This legal opinion, although non-binding, disputes the legality of all investigations undertaken by the SPO since then. This includes cases that, in addition to Nikola Gruevski, include: Gruevski’s cousin and former head of secret police Sasho Mijalkov, as well as Ali Ahmeti, leader of DUI, the then and now ruling party, the deputy prime minister responsible for European Integration and vice president of DUI, Bujar Osmani, businessman Orce Kamchev and nearly the entire former leadership of the current opposition party VMRO-DPMNE. With this legal opinion, the indictment of the “Thaler” case for the illegal financing of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, as well as the construction of their impressive headquarters in the centre of Skopje, has been shaken to the core.
Public reactions and statements made by key players’ suggest that the SPO will have to hand over these cases to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Republic Public Prosecutor, Ljubomir Joveski. Therefore, the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office – the symbol of the struggle for the rule of law and the state of law, as well as the fight against a repressive authoritarian regime, the institution that could boast trust among the general public, more than any politician or political party in the history of an independent Macedonia – will cease to exist.
Key questions that are asked: Whom does SPO’s existence benefit? Which executive party wants a specially formed Special Prosecutor’s Office with great powers? Who proposed, and who accepted the deadline for submitting charges to the SPO to be just 18 months?
The answers to these questions can be partially found in an interview with Peter Vanhoutte, the mediator who assisted in the resolution of the political crisis in Macedonia in 2016, given to Macedonian “Vistinomer”.
In the interview, he said that the initial proposal by experts who worked on the Law on the formation of the SPO was that the deadline for filing the charges be 5 years with the possibility of an extension. After lengthy negotiations, the team of the current Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of the Social Democratic Alliance, according to Vanhoutte, suggested that the deadline be two years, while Gruevski and VMRO-DPMNE proposed that it be just 18 months.
“After a bit of discussion between Gruevski and Zaev, despite my sharp objections that the deadline is too short, they reached an agreement. In fact, there were no negotiations between them on this issue. Gruevski said 18 months and Zaev accepted,” explained Vanhoutte.
At the end of the interview, the Dutch expert pointed out that “as long as the leaders of the political parties do not accept a system of responsibility, which is crucial for a democratic country,” Macedonia has no place in the EU.