Row Erupts in North Macedonia over ‘Extortion’ Defendant’s Release

The Appeals Court in Skopje spoke out on Wednesday in defence of judges who approved the conditional release from prison of the country's former chief special prosecutor Katica Janeva, after the prosecutor leading the case threatened to have them investigated for foul play.

In a written statement after an extraordinary session, the Appeals Court said the conduct of Organised Crime Chief Prosecutor Vilma Ruskoska represented "a direct threat and crude interference in the work of the court."

The Court had approved a request, on health grounds, for Katica Janeva to be released from prison and transferred to house arrest. Janeva, one of three people charged in the so-called 'Extortion' case that has rocked North Macedonia since the summer, was transferred on Tuesday.

Janeva, who led North Macedonia's special prosecution office, is accused of taking tens of thousands of euros in bribes. She was taken into custody in August but denies the charges. The trial is set to begin on December 3.

Responding to her release from prison, Ruskoska told Deutsche Welle: "This is disgraceful. What kind of message are we sending with this decision? Let us not forget that this is a very specific case and is being monitored by the international public."

'Indecent behaviour'

Ruskoska threatened to instigate a financial probe into the three Appeals Court judges who took the decision.

"There's no EU with these kinds of judges," she said, in apparent reference to EU pressure to root out corrupt judges before a country can advance to accession. The Extortion case is widely seen as a litmus test of North Macedonia's judicial system and commitment rule of law.

In its own response, the Appeals Court alleged Ruskoska had sent a...

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