Experts: SPO’s cases in procedure may be delayed or may become outdated
The possible involvement of Katica Janeva in the “Racket” affair will not cause legal problems with the cases of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office that are ongoing in the courts, but may cause delays and postponements that, in return, may lead to outdated cases, claim experts that we contacted
The possible involvement of Katica Janeva in the “Racket” affair will not cause legal problems with the cases of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office that are ongoing in the courts but may cause delays and postponements that, in return, may lead to outdated cases, claim experts that we contacted
Author: Teofil Blazhevski
After the scandal over the arrest and the opening of an investigation into two suspects for racketeering, with which are connected two prosecutors from the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), the question arises as to what will happen with the cases that are already in procedure in courts. Not only the cases opened after 30 June 2017, but also those that were in procedure until 20 June – about twenty cases of which fifteen are still in trial.
The question is actualized both from a political and legal aspect. The main opposition party with which the Government has not been unable to find common grounds so far, for the new Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office (that will solve the status of SPO) has already come out with a claim that this scandal proved that SPO is an instrument of SDSM and that everything that SPO worked on, now is just water under the bridge.
An answer to this claim was given by the prosecutor from SPO, Lence Ristovska:
I want to emphasize that we stand behind the work done so far. I assure you that all the procedures that have been opened until now and for which we have prosecution acts and trials are not brought into question because me and my colleagues can confirm that our actions were within the frames of the legal regulations – stated Ristovska on a press briefing.
All of this points to the question of whether there may be legal consequences for SPO’s cases that are ongoing in the courts. According to the answers of the legal experts, major legal consequences are not expected, but delays and postponements are possible.
THE LAW ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE HAS NO REGULATIONS THAT WOULD DELAY THE CASES
The professor at the Faculty of Law in Skopje “Iustinianus Primus”, Gordan Kalajdziev, considers that form the aspect of the Law on Criminal Procedure (LCP) there are no problems and that there may be a delay only on the Law on SPO:
I believe that the events will not influence the ongoing cases. In the LCP there is not a special provision that regulates such incidents. There is a regulation on how the court should act if the judge is somehow involved in the case, and this also applies to the public prosecutor. If there is any problem, the public prosecutor is exempted from the case and another public prosecutor comes to their place. But since the special public prosecutor is the sole representative of the cases of SPO, according to the Law on SPO, I think that it could come to a certain delay if the special prosecutor is part of the investigation. But this delay would not be long if the new Law on prosecution is passed, within which the current SPO will be included – said Kalajdziev.
“THE DEFENSE IS EXPECTED TO REQUIRE EXEMPTION OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR…”
Natali Petrovska, a lawyer and director of the NGO Coalition – All for Fair Trials, shares a similar opinion. She does not expect legal problems, but rather moral ones:
The question about the impact of the possible investigation into the abovementioned persecutor (Katica Janeva) on the existing SPO cases is more related to the moral and ethical aspect and approach, than with the procedural and technical ones. This is because LCP does not provide specific provisions that determine this issue, an “intervention” on the representative in the case they represent and sanctioning for such behavior. However, it is indisputable that the defense will use this opportunity and will call into question any individual action taken in these cases.
Petrovska expects that the defence will act this way- they will seek exemption of the special public prosecutor and will hope for a “block in the procedure and a dead-end”:
To start with, it can be expected that the defense requires and insists on the exemption of the public prosecutor in charge of this prosecutor’s office in order to eliminate the suspicion of eventual impartiality or, more specifically, professionalism in acting in the procedure, which would perhaps lead to a deadlock and delay in proceedings. This is why: Article 38, Paragraph 3 of the Law on Criminal Procedure stipulates that the public prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor’s Office decides on the exemption of the public prosecutors from the given Prosecutor’s Office, while the exemption of the public prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor’s Office is decided by the public prosecutor from the immediate higher Public Prosecutor’s Office. In this particular case, there isn’t an immediate higher Public Prosecutor’s Office, so in the Law on Special Public Prosecutor’s Office is stipulated that the Public Prosecutor will be professionally responsible before the Council of Public Prosecutors for the expert and legal actions in their work (Article 7, Paragraph 3).
According to Petrovska, the procedure for dismissal of the Special Prosecutor before schedule, due to unprofessional and unethical work, if initiated by the Council of Public Prosecutors, must again be passed in a parliamentary procedure, first as an opinion, and then as a decision on the proposal of the Council. But, Petrovska says that this is less likely to happen because the parties will pass the new law on prosecution which will solve the status of SPO.
“EMPIRE” IS THE MOST PROTECED CASE IN THE MOMENT
The public was not much concerned with the fate of other subjects, but mostly with the fate of the case “Empire”, because in this case there is suspicion of racketeering done by the persons under investigation and possibly the involved Janeva. And while the expectations and writings on social networks go in the direction that the case is not important anymore, Petrovska thinks that at the moment this case is the most protected:
This subject may be the most protected, because it is still under investigation. The prosecutor’s office that will take over this case for further action, whether it will be the “new” SPO in accordance with the status positioning in the new Law or The Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, will have the opportunity to continue the investigation and to “correct” the eventual damage if it is established that such damage exists. Regarding the other cases, I think that there will be certain delays in the procedures that do not at all favor the results expected from SPO, and especially not in those cases that are close to becoming outdated, which further opens the possibility of continuing the policy of impunity in the country.
VMRO-DPMNE DOES EVERYTHING FOR THINGS TO GO IN THEIR FAVOR
Hence, the VMRO-DPMNE’s claims that everything that was done by SPO until now does not matter is nothing but an imposition of a wrong attitude in the public by which all goes in their favor because almost all of the cases under consideration include high-ranking officials of this party.
Another question is what will happen to SPO as an institution. Even the indication that Katica Janeva and Lence Stefanova were perhaps involved in the case with the suspects Bojan Jovanovski and Zoran Milevski leave a bitter taste in the public. Especially among the public that during the “Colorful Revolution” and at the time when ex-President Gjorge Ivanov declared an abolition for 50 people, every day for weeks, at 5 PM gathered in front of the then SPO seat and marched through the streets of Skopje, expressing support for the institution which now has an enormous shadow upon itself.
This is most precisely expressed by former Public Prosecutor Jovan Trpenovski, who, in a statement for Factor could not conceal the feeling of resignation:
“.. I must say I regret that this happened. Me, and most of the public, were supporters of SPO, and this feels like a personal defeat” Trpenovski says.