The PPO law on state prosecutors officially entered into force today. The law was adopted in a scandalous procedure, with extensive pressure aimed against members of Parliament, who were ordered to vote twice after first rejecting the law.
Some of its key articles include that prosecutors won’t be allowed to continue pressing charges based on warrant-less wiretaps. This was the hallmark of the SDSM approach to the judiciary, when Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva would systematically charge opposition officials based on incomplete, edited wiretaps. SDSM insisted that, with the party likely to go in the oppositon or that it loses its control over the judiciary, the same standards won’t apply to their officials, and insisted on a law that would prevent filing charges against SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev or other party officials based on the numerous leaks that are being published daily and indicate serious corruption and abuse of power on the part of SDSM.
Another clause in the law officially abolishes the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) – Janeva’s institution that was used by SDSM to grab power.
It’s a bitter sweet moment – bitter because we part and many of our plans are unrealized, but sweet because of the challenges we overcame together and the energy we shared. SPO employees today remain jobless. It’s a sad moment, said prosecutor Lence Ristovska, who along with Katica Janeva and Fatime Fetai was the face of the political persecution perpetrated through the SPO – the institution that was presented as key to the rule of law in Macedonia, but ultimately destroyed any public trust in the judiciary with its abuses.
No other prosecutor apart from Janeva was charged in the racketeering case in which she was sentenced to seven years in prison for extorting money from businessmen she was prosecuting, although many were credibly accused of also asking for side-bribes, if not working directly with Janeva in her own extortion. Under the PPO law, the SPO prosecutors will keep their positions, and in many instances even work on the same cases which are still on-going, despite the enormous betrayal of trust on the part of the institution.
Public Prosecutor Ljubomir Joveski insisted that the cases initiated by Janeva will continue to be tried, based on the illegal wiretaps. He said that in the case of the more recent wiretaps, that incrimate officials of the SDSM party – which appointed Joveski to his position – he may investigate the origin of the tapes – implying cases against the leakers but not the officials who are recorded in them. Under Joveski and his organized crime assistant Vilma Ruskoska, the state prosecutors made sure they don’t investigate top SDSM officials who were involved in Janeva’s racketeering activities, with the exception of Deputy Parliament Speaker Frosina Remenski. The numerous allegations that SDSM leader Zoran Zaev was personally involved and in the end took most of the money that were extorted remained uninvestigated by Joveski and Ruskoska.