North Macedonia’s chief Special Prosecutor, Katica Janeva, has been arrested on charges of criminal association, the Attorney General’s Office told local media at a press conference in Skopje on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Janeva was called to testify as a witness in the so-called “Racket” case after an Italian newspaper released secret recordings of phone calls between businessman Jordan Kamcev and media mogul Bojan Jovanovsky. On the phone call, Jovanovsky offers to pull strings with Janeva to show leniency in a prison sentence kamcev is facing over corruption charges.
State Public Prosecutor General Ljubomir Joveski announced at the press conference that Janeva has been arrested on suspicion that she “has abused her post” and that prosecutors have obtained “irrefutable evidence against her.”
According to Balkaneu, Joveski said there is sufficient evidence to show that Janeva received about 290,000 denars (about 4,705 euros) to influence proceedings in favour of the businessman.
Jordan Kamcev is North Macedonia’s richest man, operating a corporate conglomerate in the financial, media, energy and construction sectors.
Kamcev and North Macedonia’s former chief of intelligence Saso Mijalkov are the two central figures in the “Imperium” case opened by the Special Prosecutors Office last year.
Both men were taken into custody as part of the investigation, but while Mijalkov was later put under house arrest, Kamchev was released. Janeva is said to have played a decisive role in this and to have personally promised the oligarch that he has nothing to fear.
Adding weight to the charges, an Italian newspaper has released a series of secretly recorded phone calls between the accused men and Kamcev.
In one of the eight recordings released by the La Verita newspaper, Bojanovsky tells Kamcev “You have regards from the woman”, thought to be Janeva, after which what appears to be Janeva’s own voice can be heard, saying: “Do not worry. Everything will be OK.”
“OK, OK, no problem,” Kamcev’s voice is heard replying.
Ms. Janeva, who resigned in July, confirmed the authenticity of the recording, but said that this conversation had nothing to do with the case.
“I have not traded with influence, misused my office or acted unlawfully in any case or at any moment”, Janeva said in a statement.
Police on Wednesday searched Katica Janeva’s home in the Kozle neighbourhood of Skopje twice. Afterwards, police officers acting on an arrest warrant, detained Janeva.
She was taken by police to the State Prosecutor’s Office, where a search was conducted and her computer confiscated, before police returned to her home with Janeva and seized furniture and other items. A second home, belonging to the former chief prosecutor was also searched, according to reporting by Balkaneu.
The revelations have shocked North Macedonia which was still reeling from a massive phone tapping scandal under the last government, which the Special Prosecutors Office, led by Janeva, had been tasked with investigating.