The Special Prosecutor’s Office has listened to more than 500 thousand phone conversations, 193 thousand of them are private!
The SPO has classified 85% of the phone conversations they possess, which they say demonstrate the mass violation of human rights in the country. This conclusion can be found in the sixth Report on the activities of the SPO
The Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) assesses the last six months, from September 2017 to March 2018, as a confirmation of well done work in the whole period since its formation in 2015, because the Court has accepted most of their indictments and because the first rulings have been pronounced.
This is stated in the last, fifth six-month report of the Prosecutor’s Office (official name: Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Criminal Offences Related to and Arising from the Content of the Illegally Intercepted Communication), published pursuant to this institution’s legal obligation to notify the public as well as the Parliament of the RM for its activities.
During the reporting period, the court has fully approved 15 indictments issued in June 2017. In this regard, the fifth reporting period is undoubtedly a confirmation for the overall work of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Criminal Offences Related to and Arising from the Content of the Illegally Intercepted Communication since it started operating, up to and including the submission of this Report.
The SPO points out that rulings have been already pronounced for 11 accused persons:
As a result of the approved indictments issued previously on our part, hearings for most of the issued indictments were started or were scheduled during the reporting period. What is more, this period will most likely be marked by the first rulings made against 11 accused persons, which result from the quality work and undertaken actions in the initiated investigations that provided us with firm evidence, the Report says.
The head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Katica Janeva, emphasizes one more highly important moment in this reporting period – the decision of the Appellate Court in Skopje to accept the wiretapped materials, possessed by the SPO, as evidence in the procedure:
This decision only confirms the fact that based on the provisions in the laws, the audio recordings of the phone conversations have become a part of the domestic legal order, therefore this Public Prosecutor’s Office is obligated to conduct effective and in-depth investigation of the severe violations and infringements as well as to sanction the perpetrators within its legal remit anent the criminal offences related to and arising from the content of the illegally intercepted communication. In half of the indictments issued during the reporting period, without taking the already established judicial practice into account, the audio recordings have been removed from the documents of cases as evidence obtained illegally and by violating the rights and freedoms of citizens. Although the decisions made this way prolonged the procedures for approving the issued indictments on the part of the court, the fact that the Appellate Court upheld all appeals lodged on our part and decisions were made in keeping with the established judicial practice is of great importance for my team and me – Janeva says.
POINTING OUT TO THE UNRESOLVED STATUS
Janeva states that in the past six months, the SPO continued the preliminary investigations and the investigations about many important cases for which indictments weren’t issued within the legal deadline, which was 30 June last year, as well as that from September 2017 to March 2018, the SPO took over cases from the State Prosecutor’s Office.
Due to the public’s great deal of interest, it is my duty to inform that in the past period we have taken over the preliminary investigation cases from the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office Skopje and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption Skopje. It’s a matter of the cases known to the public as SKOPJE 2014, AKTOR, the case of COSMOS and the case of the population CENSUS in 2011. Within the eight-day legal deadline, decisions were made on putting the aforementioned cases under our remit and they have been affiliated to or facilitated the initiation of new preliminary investigations which are led by the Prosecutor’s Office.
These numbers and the results achieved thus far represent one more piece of evidence for Janeva about the need of legal regulation of SPO’s status in terms of the deadline for issuing indictments, that is, extending it or finding another law form to regulate it.
Notwithstanding the numerous accentuations on my part during the reporting period, no legal guarantees that would regulate the position of this Prosecutor’s Office were provided, which would perform the function of implementing the competences for which this Prosecutor’s Office was founded in the first place, as well as in line with disabling impunity of crimes under the remit of this Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, the role of the Prosecutor’s Office in the fight against corruption and raising the level of citizens’ legal safety must not be neglected.
OVER 200 PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS
The need for finding a solution to SPO’s status, regulated by the Law passed on 15 September 2015, is also highlighted by the statistics in the Report. To wit, in the last 6 months, the SPO initiated 136 preliminary investigations, so now the total number of preliminary investigations has reached more than 200:
During the reporting period, 136 new preliminary investigations were registered. Out of them, 23 cases were opened upon own initiative, whereas 113 cases were opened based on reports by other submitters. Including the 99 active preliminary investigations that have been previously initiated, this Prosecutor’s Office currently works on 235 preliminary investigations in total. Out of this number of preliminary investigations, 53 cases have been resolved, 48 of which had been opened based on reports of other submitters, while 5 cases opened upon own initiative have been closed. A total of 182 cases are still operational, 128 of which are active preliminary investigations opened upon own initiative.
The SPO reflected on the investigations initiated in this six-month period:
Between 15 September 2017 and 15 March 2018, this Prosecutor’s Office initiated 7 new investigations against total number of 17 natural entities. If the structure of crimes in the new investigations initiated during the reporting period is reviewed, it is evident that most crimes dealt by this Prosecutor’s Office are crimes comprised by chapter XXX of the Criminal Code – crimes against official duty. – Janeva says.
IMMENSE NUMBER OF PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS
While looking at the statistic indicators, you can notice that the SPO has made progress in the processing of audio files from the wiretapped phone conversations. What points out to the size and illegality perpetrated in Macedonia is the number of intercepted conversations, but the number of private phone conversations, after being classified and processed by the SPO, startles even more.
Up to and including the day of submission of this Report, we’ve analyzed the content of 515 572 audio files, i.e. 85% of the total number of audio files possessed by this Prosecutor’s Office are being processed, 1784 transcripts have been created, and based on the conversations we’ve listened to there is indication for perpetrated crime… The process of separating the private conversations from the ones that are being processed continued during the fifth reporting period. Out of the 515 572 analyzed conversations, 193 753 have been separated and deemed to be private conversations.
This piece of data alone shows the magnitude of the violation of the fundamental human rights in this country. So many citizens have been exposed to illegal invasion of privacy, and that might always inspire the “eavesdropper” to commit other crimes too.
SPO’s complete report for the period from 15 September 2017 to 15 March 2018 can be read HERE.
This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.