by | 28 April, 2023

Don’t worry, there are still cases whose statute of limitations needs to expire

1 There’s no point in wasting words and complaining about the situation in the judiciary. We saw that in the Judicial Council, the highest judicial body that elects and dismisses judges, the vice-president was able to come up with a procedure for dismissing the president. Not only did he invent a procedure which has nothing to do with the law, but he also managed to get six more votes from his colleagues in the Council to implement said procedure. After this event, there’s no longer any need for in-depth analyses of the situations in our judiciary, no need for debates on reforms and promises on our way to the EU. It’s not worth arguing over who’s interfering with court verdicts – if it’s SDSM, DUI or VMRO-DPMNE. Everything’s clear: they jointly prevented the dismissal of the appellate judge Enver Bexheti, who had shelved the high-profile case against the former director of the secret service Sasho Mijalkov for so long that the statute of limitations expired. We’re talking about the case of the former SPE, “Target-Fortress”, for the illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens. It’s the first case in a series of similar cases and the root of the corruption that has captured the country, but no one will be held accountable for it.

But that’s not all. The same judge is to be elected as a judge to the Supreme Court. There must be other cases whose statute of limitations needs to expire there as well. Still, there’s no need to worry. The Judicial Council, the current Judicial Council, will surely supervise him.

That’s not all, yet again. On the same day, the Council of Public Prosecutors sent the prosecutor Lenche Ristoska before the Ethics Council for stating that the Council of Public Prosecutors was a source of improper lobbying. They will determine whether she violated the code of ethics because she revealed that the prosecutors told candidates – send in your application, we’ll elect you, you’re one of us.

When the highest judicial bodies don’t respect the law, when neither rules nor procedures apply to the Judicial Council, and the Council of Prosecutors punishes prosecutors for pointing out corruption, there seems to be no point in talking about an independent judiciary and prosecution, let alone about reforms in the judiciary.

Minister of Justice Krenar Loga stated that he “hopes and wishes that the whole situation will be resolved”. The Supreme Court stated that they are “carefully monitoring the situation and encourage the Judicial Council to resolve the situation”. As if this is a cartoon.  You can’t expect to just clap your hands, say “Situation, be resolved!” and voila – the situation is resolved.

The public is shocked by the situation, while the judges and prosecutors are still silent. Perhaps laying low until the uproar dies down is in their best interest. Since they too know whose notebook they come from and who told them – send in your application, we’ll elect you.

2 All of this was preceded by a letter US Ambassador Angela Aggeler sent to the Government, in which she wrote she was concerned and disappointed by the large number of high-profile cases that the Court of Appeal has sent back to the first-instance procedure for retrial and that taking them back and forth between the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance further reduces the little faith the public has in the courts.

After this letter, the judges of the Court of Appeal got together and decided to reply that they didn’t have enough judges. The judges are probably busy dealing with the kebab theft cases, and they don’t have the time to review the cases in which politicians and businessmen are convicted. Translated into Macedonian that means: Don’t worry, there are still cases whose statute of limitations needs to expire.

The US Ambassador pointed out in her letter that the USA has so far invested over 560 million dollars for the training of most of the judges and prosecutors from Macedonia.

It’s not like the judges and the prosecutors didn’t learn anything from those trainings. Also, it’s not like they don’t know the laws and procedures in Macedonia. As a matter of fact, they prove that best when they’re supposed to overturn verdicts or keep cases shelved. Still, if a judge or a prosecutor has no integrity as a professional, and above all as a person, it’s a waste of time to take them to the USA a hundred times more and to pay for a hundred more trainings.

After the judicial-political connection was publicly exposed, maybe it’s time to revisit the idea former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had about a general re-election and all judges and prosecutors to be sent home. Truth be told, at the beginning of his term, he found it disgusting that judges were sucking up to him, but eventually he himself participated in sabotaging the idea of re-election. That’s why, when it comes to the American taxpayers, as well as the Dutch, British, Swiss, German, French, Italian and all other taxpayers who pay for the training of our judges and prosecutors, it might be cheaper for them to pay for some international commission which would re-elect our judges and public prosecutors, instead of that being done by our local judicial council and the council of prosecutors. Sure, maybe the place of the current ones is in a court. But not as judges or prosecutors, but – sitting on the defendant’s bench.

3 Regarding the letter of the US Ambassador, a journalist asked Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski:  How long will the international community tolerate us?

Why would we expect the international community to tolerate us? If the government doesn’t feel any pressure at home, the international community doesn’t give a damn about who’s robbing us. From the outside, they’ll pressure us to change our Constitution a hundred more times if necessary, in order to ensure regional stability, so that they wouldn’t have headaches. What about us on the inside? You’ll have to live with the people you’ve elected.

So, the question isn’t how long the international community will put up with us. But, how long we will put up with all those we elect and pay to rule justly but decide to rob us once they come to power. It’s not enough for them that they’re robbing us but they’re also making fools of us. And they’re laughing in our face – we’re robbing you, but it’s for your own good.

Translated by Nikola Gjelincheski