Macedonian jailed in absentia for destroying wiretap files

 08 Nov 2017 - 17:21

Macedonian jailed in absentia for destroying wiretap files
Goran Grujovski is currently in detention in Greece after he and another ex-official were arrested there last month under an Interpol warrant. (Photo courtesy: tocka.com.mk)

AFP

Skopje:  Macedonia sentenced a former counter-intelligence official in absentia on Wednesday to 1.5 years in jail for destroying thousands of files linked to a wiretapping scandal that rocked the Balkan country.

Goran Grujovski is currently in detention in Greece after he and another ex-official were arrested there last month under an Interpol warrant.

Macedonian authorities want the pair to be extradited but the men have asked not to be returned, claiming their lives are in danger.

Another six defendants employed by the security and counter-intelligence agency were given suspended jail sentences for forging official documents.

The wiretapping scandal erupted in early 2015 when then opposition leader Zoran Zaev began releasing tapes that appeared to reveal official wiretapping of 20,000 Macedonians, including politicians and journalists, and high-level corruption.

The scandal sparked major protests both for and against the conservative government of then prime minister Nikola Gruevski, leading the European Union to step in and mediate a deal to end the turmoil.

Zaev won the snap election that followed.

Prosecutor Lence Ristoska said earlier this week that Grujovski, as the person who ordered the destruction of the intelligence documents, was "responsible for hiding traces of who wiretapped Macedonian citizens and how".

A special prosecutor's office was set up in September 2015 as part of a deal between all political parties to overcome the scandal and deal with the allegations.