IRL, an investigative news network, is accusing former Deputy Prime Minister Koco Angjusev of insulting and threatening them, after their recent report on the disastrous Tetovo hospital fire that killed 14 people in 2021. The improvised Covid ward in the Tetovo hospital is one of 19 such wards that were built by Angjusev’s BRAKO company, under contract from the Healthcare Ministry. It was consumed by flames in minutes, after a spark caused by a faulty electric wire.

Because of the power and influence of Angjusev and then Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce, state prosecutors charged only three of the immediate managers of the hospital, and all were found either not guilty or given suspended sentences. But IRL, usually close to the ruling SDSM – DUI coalition, came out with an hour long report accusing state prosecutor Ljubomir Joveski of undermining the investigation, while informing that BRAKO later hired the chief architect working in Filipce’s cabinet who prepared the bid for the prefab hospital wards.

The Macedonian company BRAKO categorically, strongly, unrelentingly and rigorously rejects and denies all the lies, made up and shameful claim and monstrous ideas of the IRL group, whose latest false construction shows them to be shame for the professional journalists and is doubtless a cancer on the healthy economic tissue of our state, BRAKO said in its statement.
IRL objects to the use of the word “cancer” to describe their reporting. The AVMU media regulator joined in and asked that journalists are not insulted and publicly discredited in their reporting.

In its statement, BRAKO alleges that the company is under attack from IRL, with ulterior motives. They are hinting at the outcome of a recent IRL report that attacked doctor Zan Mitrev of profiting from unreliable Covid treatment that was conducted in his hospital – the hospital was later reportedly put on sale, and it is alleged that Albanian businessmen are close to buying the hospital – hence BRAKO is pointing out that they are a Macedonian company in their press release. Another potential motive, according to BRAKO, is the fact that the Healthcare Ministry still hasn’t paid for the 19 hospital wards.

As the victims were mostly ethnic Albanians, the issue became political, with Albanian opposition parties demanding accountability both for the company and for the then political officials responsible for the construction of the wards using unsafe materials. Filipce has remained very close to Zaev, and the calls for renewed investigations come at a time when Zaev has a growing conflict with the Kovacevski Government, and both him and Filipce are mentioned as potential candidates in the 2024 presidential elections.