Four Interior Ministry clerks and one accomplice pleaded guilty in the mafia passports case – the scandal in which it was revealed that the Ministry was massively issuing passports to regional and international criminals and drug lords, with over 200 such passports given in the past several years.

The scandal was revealed by the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, which alleged that top Ministry officials, including Minister Oliver Spasovski, were involved. He responded by quickly arresting a dozen clerks and accusing them of being the first and last people in the conspiracy.

Denis Barufi, Alen Licina, Georgi Velkov, Faruk Bilja and Raif Miftari accepted the charges today. Another of the defendants, Nazdrie Zekovic, who is a personal friend of Minister Spasovski, did not attend the court hearing citing health issues, but announced that she too will not fight the charges. Meanwhile, Faruk Buki, Vesna Kolevska, Olivera Sofronievska, Branislava Vladicevska and Shemsedin Jashari declared that they are not guilty.

Mafia bosses who received Macedonian passports and identity cards – under assumed identities of actual applicants – included Sedat Peker, Serbian hitmen, Arabian money launderers and ISIS commanders.