Macedonia Court Jails Ex-Interior Minister For Six Years

Macedonia's former interior minister, Gordana Jankuloska, was jailed for six years on Monday in a first-instance verdict for "misuse of office", for her involvement in the illegal purchase of a luxury Mercedes in 2012 that the former prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, had used secretly.

Elaborating the verdict, Skopje Criminal Court Judge Dobrila Kacarska said that after Gruevski solicited the purchase of the 580,000 euros Mercedes from Jankuloska, she encouraged her subordinate, former assistant interior minister Gjoko Popovski, to rig the tendering procedure by favouring the company Mak Auto Star.

"The defendant, with premeditation, encouraged Popovski to commit a criminal act," Judge Kacarska said.

Jankuloska was not present in court for the verdict. She previously pleaded not guilty. Her defence team complained that her rights had been violated, as the trial took too long. The court rejected the complaint as unfounded.

After the judge read out the sentence, special prosecutor Fatime Fetai said that as Jankulovska was a defendant in other trials, she was at risk of fleeing, and demanded a precaution measure.

The court approved a measure, which forbids Jankuloska from leaving the territory of Skopje.

In the same case, codenamed "Tank", the Criminal Court sentenced Gruevski and Popovski to jail in May for the crime.

The Appeals Court last Friday confirmed the two-year jail sentence for former prime minister Gruevski. At the same time, it reduced Popovski's jail sentence from six-and-a-half years to four-and-a-half years.

The court previously separated Jankuloska's trial in the same case, due to her then pregnancy.

As the ruling against Jankuloska was a first-instance verdict, she may appeal...

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