Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski failed to present himself to prison on Friday where he was due to begin a two-year sentence for corruption, amid media speculation that former opposition leader has absconded.
In May, Gruevski was found guilty of improperly influencing government officials to procure a 600,000 euro Mercedes with public money for his personal use. The former internal affairs minister and close associate of Gruevski, Gordana Jankulovska, was sentenced to six years in prison, while her assistant, Djoko Popovski, was sentenced to four years for his part in the scheme.
Gruevski (48), who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2016 and is still a VMRO lawmaker, had submitted a flurry of last minute appeals and sought to have his sentence deferred, citing his parliamentary duties. However after “reviewing all the facts and evidence” in the case, a panel of judges at the Skopje criminal court on 9 November rejected his last ditch efforts to avoid prison.
According to Balkan media, however, Gruevski has still not presented himself to prison and hasn’t been seen in four days. Attempts by the courts to deliver their summons have failed as he has not been at home to receive them, prompting speculation that he has left the country.
A new warrant for his arrest could be issued if he fails to present himself today.
Meanwhile Macedonian lawmakers were unsuccessful in their bid to expel Gruevski from parliament on Friday. MPs voted 58-29 to revoke his mandate but failed to secure the required two-thirds majority in the 120-seat assembly. Gruevski his still embroiled in three other cases relating to corruption and abuse of power including allegations that he wiretapped thousands of Macedonian citizens. The revelations surrounding that case brought an end to his second term as prime minister in 2016.
Gruevski has denied all the charges and accuses the government of carrying out a political witch hunt against him.