|Macedonian Government Spokesperson Mile Bosnjakovski. Photo: gov.mk|
Macedonia will send Hungary a formal extradition request for the runaway former prime minister Nikola Gruevski in the next few days, government spokesperson Mile Bosnjakovski said on Thursday.
“We will provide arguments why Gruevski should be extradited to Macedonia. It is an extensive document of some 400 pages, but no matter, the request will be formally sent during these coming days,” Bosnjakovski said.
He added that Macedonia expected Hungary not to harbour an escaped felon who had wronged his own country.
Macedonia’s public prosecution said on Thursday that it had launched an investigation focusing on suspicions that certain state officials may have abused their position to enable Gruevski to flee, despite having surrendered his passport.
During a visit to Kosovo on Thursday, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó avoided specific answers regarding Gruevski’s presence in Hungary, his whereabouts and his chances of getting asylum.
“Our relevant authority, the migration authority, will carry out the procedures according to international law,” he commented briefly.
On BIRN’s request for more details, the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office stonewalled on Thursday, saying: “The Hungarian authorities will not provide further information relating to the details of the asylum procedure prior to completion of that procedure.”
In a telephone call between Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and his Hungarian counterpart Szijjártó previously on Thursday, Dimitrov said it was paradoxical for Gruevski, under whose rule Macedonia was characterised by the European Commission as a “captured state”, to seek asylum in an EU member country.
The Macedonian Foreign Ministry press release stated that Szijjártó had confirmed that Gruevski had submitted a request for asylum and that the legal procedure had started. He had also reiterated Hungary’s support for Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Gruevski was sentenced to two years in jail for illegally soliciting the secret purchase of a 580,000-euro Mercedes in 2012 from former interior minister Gordana Jankuloska, which he planned to use for his own purposes.
Before fleeing to Hungary, Gruevski had insisted that this and other court cases against him were a political set-up, fixed by the new government, led by the Social Democratic Union, SDSM. He had also insisted that he would not flee the country.
A US State Department spokesperson told POLITICO news site on Thursday that the US believed that Gruevski, Macedonia’s prime minister from 2006 until 2016, should serve his jail term at home.
“After a thorough and transparent legal process, Nikola Gruevski was convicted by Macedonian courts of misuse of office and sentenced to two years in prison,” POLITICO cited the State Department as saying.
“Multiple courts upheld this conviction. In addition, Mr Gruevski is indicted in four pending criminal cases,” the same spokesperson said, adding: “We believe it is appropriate for the Macedonian legal process to proceed and for Mr Gruevski to be held accountable within the Macedonian justice system.”
In Macedonia, the public remains puzzled how was Gruevski allowed to flee. Government spokesperson Bosnjakovski said the police force had started investigating its own ranks for possible accomplices in the escape that presumably happened during the weekend.
Gruevski, who was the country’s most recognizable political figure over the past decade, had his passport taken by the court last year due to the many court cases and investigations he faced. As a former prime minister, he was also guarded by a police security detail.