Macedonian prosecutor files new charges in wiretap scandal

June 29, 2017

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — A Macedonian prosecutor said Thursday that her office has filed new charges in connection with a 2-year-old wiretap scandal that triggered a major political crisis.

Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva did not name the 94 suspects, but indicated that they include former prime minister and main opposition VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski, as well as and many party officials.

“It’s about serious abuses of institutional capacities by individuals, but also by organized groups,” Janeva, who was appointed to prosecute any crimes arising from the leaked wiretaps, said at a news conference.

Gruevski already has been charged with allegedly inciting his conservative party’s supporters to violence in one leaked recording.

Janeva filed the formal accusations — which include alleged abuse of power and corruption — a day before the deadline for her to bring charges expires. Her mandate does not include investigating who ordered the wiretaps.

Gruevski dismissed the prosecutor’s allegations Thursday and accused the ruling Social-Democrats of trying “to destroy VMRO-DPMNE and Macedonia.”

“This is a political, not a legal process,” he said.

The scandal broke in 2015, when it emerged that the telephone conversations of about 20,000 people were illegally recorded.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the opposition leader at the time, accused Gruevski of orchestrating the operation. Gruevski denies wrongdoing and blames foreign spies for the wiretaps.

The political crisis led to early elections last year that brought Zaev to power after a decade of VMRO-DPMNE rule.