The court today heard from a housekeeper who worked for suspected racketeer Bojan Jovanovski – Boki 13, who describd the company he kept. Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska, Karpos Mayor Stefan Bogoev, SDSM party Secretary General Aleksandar Kiracovski, Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce and many others were frequent guests in Boki’s residence, said witness Dragana Kolevska.
I would serve them coffee and sometimes they would come for lunch. I never listened in on their conversations, Kolevska said.
Her testimony puts additional pressure, especially on Sekerinska, who was already alleged to have a close relative involved in Boki 13’s extortion racket. Boki 13 and former Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva are charged with extorting millions from businessmen who were targets of Janeva’s investigations. The revelations caused a major political crisis in Macedonia and greatly eroded any faith in the judicial system, especially as the prosecutors are visibly careful and restrained in whether they will prosecute SDSM party officials.
Kolevska named other figures who revolved around Boki 13, such as prominent journalists in his television – Aco Kabranov and Jadranka Kostova, celebrity stylist Sergej Varoslija, the third co-defendant Zoran Mileski… Meanwhile Zoran Zaev, who is scheduled to resign as Prime Minister on January 3rd, who is frequently named as the most powerful protector of Boki 13 and Katica Janeva, today issued a statement on the issue. Zaev claims that he did not know about the extortion perpetrated by his friends and political allies Boki 13 and Janeva, and that as soon as he heard about it from businessman Jordan Orce Kamcev, he reported the case to the state prosecutors, but for a long while Zaev refused to name the date when he reported the crime, or provide some evidence that he really did so. Today he said that his report was made on April 22nd 2019. Zaev kept promoting Janeva for a permanent position of Special Prosecutor well into July.
Sekerinska did not comment today on the latest allegations about her close relationship with Boki 13. Kolevska described Boki’s residence as a place adorned with many works of art, saying that galleries would send paintings to Boki and asked him to display them, hoping they would catch the eye of his rich and powerful visitors. In a way, Kolevska said, his apartment was a better selling point than a professional art gallery.
The court also heard from a journalist working in Boki 13’s television. Hristijan Banevski was a journalist in 1TV and he testified that Boki 13 would frequently interfere in the editorial policy and tell the reporters what to report on and from what angle. The prosecution alleges that Boki 13 was using the television as an additional point of pressure on the people he was extorting.
Boki 13 would tell us to report that we, as a television, are sending samples of bottled water to have them tested. Several months after we made the announcement, the Pelisterka bottling company came on as a sponsor and I as asked to have a bottle of its water on my desk. I was also sent to report on the Agria meat company, who previously met with Boki. When we met, he shouted at me that we are not a TV station but that we operate as extortionists. When I asked Boki 13 about it, whether he was asking for money from the company, he told me that the TV station has to make a living, Banevski said. The Pelisterka owner was charged with money laundering by Katica Janeva and is believed to have been a high level target of her extortion campaign.
The trial continues on January 3rd, and the court will hear from Elizabeta Josifovska, one of the main deputy prosecutors to Katica Janeva.