Gruevski’s Escape Spells Detention for His Former Associates

After ex-PM Nikola Gruevski fled the country to avoid serving his jail sentence, his former colleagues in government have rounded on him for evading justice and putting their own trials at risk.
Macedonia’s former PM Nikola Gruevski. Photo: EPA/Georgi Licovski

Macedonian authorities detained the country’s former transport minister, Mile Janakieski, and the former government secretary general, Kiril Bozinovski, on Wednesday after their former boss, ex-prime minister Nikola Gruevski, fled the country to avoid a jail sentence.

The Skopje Criminal Court ordered 30 days of detention for both of them.

The court order came on the request of the Special Prosecution in charge of investigating high-level crime, SJO, which cited the danger of them also fleeing the country.

On Tuesday, after the Interior Ministry said Gruevski had fled to Hungary, and was applying for political asylum there, the authorities said they would issue an international arrest warrant and demand his extradition.

Police issued an arrest warrant for Gruevski on Monday after he failed to turn up at a prison to serve a two-year jail sentence for the illicit purchase of a luxury limousine.

Before he was detained, former transport minister Janakieski on Tuesday condemned Gruevski’s flight.

“I strongly condemn this act because it will have a negative impact on court cases in general, especially on the cases where we both stand accused,” Janakieski told a TV station.

Janakieski is on trial in several cases, the most prominent of which is codenamed “Titanik”, in which he, Gruevski and 10 others are accused of masterminding fraud during past elections.

Former interior minister Gordana Jankuloska, who also faces several court cases, on top of a six-year jail sentence that she already received for the same case in which Gruevski was convicted, also condemned Gruevski’s escape.

“I am in Macedonia and it did not even cross my mind to flee somewhere,” she told the media on Tuesday.

Head Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva on Tuesday said that she hoped Gruevski would be extradited soon – and hinted that they might seek to tighten the current measures on other people facing charges.

“For the time being, he [Gruevski] will surely be tried in absentia … this will not obstruct ongoing trials,” Janeva said on TV.

Gruevski was prime minister of Macedonia from 2006 to 2016. His VMRO DPMNE party was ousted in 2017 after a prolonged political crisis in which he and his close associates were accused of authoritarian rule and corruption.

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