Photo courtesy of US State Department.

US Blacklists Former Mayor in Kosovo and Former Top Prosecutor, Presidential Candidate in North Macedonia

The US State Department on Monday blacklisted the former chief of North Macedonia’s now defunct Special Prosecution, Katica Janeva, on account of her involvement in 'significant corruption'.

In addition to Janeva, who is currently serving a jail sentence, the US also added to the list Stevco Jakimovski, the Mayor of Skopje’s Karposh municipality and lately a presidential candidate, as well as the former mayor of Kacanik in Kosovo, Xhabir Zharku.

“Their actions undermined the rule of law and the public’s faith in their respective governments’ democratic institutions and public processes”, the State Department wrote .

Regarding Janeva, the State Department wrote that, “in her official capacity as former North Macedonia Special Chief Prosecutor, Janeva was involved in corrupt acts, including using her political influence and official power for personal benefit.  There is credible information Janeva solicited and accepted a bribe to influence a prosecution under her purview.”

When she was appointed head of the Special Precaution, SJO, Janeva was seen as the great hope of restoring the rule of law and justice in North Macedonia.

Formed amid a deep political crisis under international mediation in 2015, and tasked with tackling top-level crime in government, then led by Nikola Gruevski,who has since fled to Hungary, the SJO initially set new professional standards and enjoyed huge support.

However, its credibility vanished when the “Extortion” scandal erupted in 2019 in which Janeva was entangled. Iin 2020, she was jailed for misuse of office and is still serving her seven-year term.

The second person added to the US list, Karposh Mayor Jakimovski, is also leader of the small GROM party and one seven candidates for North Macedonia’s April 24 presidential elections. He is not a frontrunner.

The US State Department wrote that, as mayor, “Jakimovski was involved in corrupt acts, including using his official position to interfere with urban development and procurement processes to benefit himself and his associates”.

The State Department added that Janeva’s and Jakimovski’s close family members will also be unable to enter the US.

Responding to the recent designations, North Macedonia’s government said it was mulling ways to make the US and UK blacklisting of people and firms a basis for taking legal action against them in North Macedonia.

The third person, Xhabir Zharku, former Mayor of Kacanik in Kosovo, was added to the list, the US said, because he “was involved in corrupt acts, including interfering with procurement processes to unlawfully permit construction on property owned by the municipality, to benefit himself and his associates”.

Zharku was mayor from 2008 to 2010 when he was an influential figure in the then-governing Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK. In 2011, he was sentenced to three years in prison for extortion and illegal possession of weapons. He dodged serving prison as he escaped to Sweden and returned to Kosovo in 2018, when the warrant against him expired.

In 2019, he was arrested at Pristina Airport while trying to leave Kosovo and was charged with misuse of office. In 2023, the Basic Court of Ferizaj/Urosevac acquitted him from all charges.

and 18/03/2024 - 18:45

18 March 2024 - 18:45

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