There are no omissions in the Appeal during the proceedings in the "Target-Tvrdina" case, the Judicial Council decided

Judicial Council/Photo: Sloboden pechat-Slobodan Djuric

At today's session, the Judicial Council unanimously adopted a report from a working visit to the Skopje Appeal, which states that the judges did not deliberately delay a case of high public interest, which later became obsolete with the amendments to the Criminal Code. Although the members of the Council were very careful in the discussions not to reveal which case it was about, from what was presented it can be concluded that the report refers to the actions of the appellate judges in the "Target-Fortress" case, in which they were accused of the illegal wiretapping of citizens and the former director of UBC, Sasho Mijalkov (12 years in prison), former Minister of Internal Affairs Gordana Jankulovska (4 years), as well as former employees of UBC and the Ministry of the Interior, including escaped intelligence officers Goran Grujevski (15 years) and Nikola Boskovski (15 years old).

The report was presented to the Judicial Council by member judge Ivica Nikolovski, who during the visit to the Skopje Court of Appeal was appointed extraordinary coordinator of this court. He said that the report provides a factual account of the actions taken by the judges who acted, who took procedural actions and decided in this case.

- As a reminder, the reason for this report was the indignation of the participants in this procedure and the affected voice of the public that this case is being dragged out on purpose, in order to meet the statute of limitations. At one of our meetings, we came to the conclusion to form a working group, to inspect all the files and to check and determine if there is a subjective element and actions taken of a subjective nature in order for this procedure to be unjustifiably protracted, which simultaneously created an opportunity to apply the amendments and additions to the Criminal Law. The report presents the actions taken by date and time by the primary and appellate courts. From the inspection of the files, we as a working group concluded that the actions were taken in accordance with the provisions of the Law on Criminal Procedure, there was a period of time, a passage of time, shorter or longer, irrelevant, but everything is for justified reasons, there is no presence of a subjective element on any by the judges in order to delay the procedure. The proposal of the working group from the inspection is that there are no omissions in the actions of the judges from the Skopje Court of Appeal - Nikolovski said.

In addition to Nikolovski, Judge Mirsad Suroi and the now retired member of the Council, Judge Meri Radevska, participated in the working group.

In the discussion after the presentation of the report, the members who called to speak said that the report is exhaustive, and all the actions of the judges are described.

- I can conclude that there are no mistakes among the judges - said member judge Antoaneta Dimovska.

The member of the Council, Pavlina Crvenkovska, also said that in the report, which lists in detail all the actions taken by all the parties in the procedure, there are no omissions by the judges.

Member Tanja Chacharovska Ilievska emphasized that there is no reason not to believe what was written in the report.

- From what has been stated, it is not possible to see any omissions on the part of the judges, especially since this case was reassigned in January or February 2023 and given to another judge, actions were taken in accordance with the law. I have no reason not to believe what was submitted by the working group, and there is nothing to be blamed on the reporter judges who worked on the specific case - said Chacharovska Ilievska.

The President of the Judicial Council, Vesna Dameva, said that she had no doubts that there were no omissions on the part of the judges.

- Amendments to the Criminal Code are another matter and it is not within our competence - Dameva said.

Vice-President Hanif Zendeli indicated that there was a technical error in the report, that is, that the name of a judge was not written, being careful not to reveal which judge it was.

- I have no comments about the report, but technically, on the second page about the composition of the judicial council, there is only the surname, there is no name of the judge, I will not mention it, you will see it on page 2 - Zendeli said.

The Basic Criminal Court handed down the verdict in the "Target-Fortress" case in February 2021, by which 11 people were sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison and 10 years in suspended prison, and sent it back for a retrial. After the appeal of seven of the convicted, the Appeal canceled the verdict in December 2022, on the grounds that there is a discrepancy between the verdict and the written sample, that there is no description of the illegal actions of each of the defendants, and that what the Criminal Court considered proven was not corresponds to the evidence from the expert reports. The appeal then explained that the conviction of the Basic Criminal Court was unclear, incomprehensible and unfit for further examination. The five-member council for this case was headed by judge Jani Nicha, the reporting judge was Enver Bejeti, and the remaining three members were Djoko Ristov, Tanja Mileva and Lidija Chacheva.

After returning to the Basic Criminal Court in January 2023, the case was reassigned to judge Ilija Trpkov, who did not have time to complete the process, because the case became obsolete with the amendments to the Criminal Code from September 2023, which were passed by the Parliament, and with which the penalties were reduced about the officials who abuse their position.

Both the return of the case from the Appeal to the Criminal Court, as well as the statute of limitations of the "Target-Tvrdina" case with the amendments to the Criminal Code, caused a storm of indignation in the public, because no one will be held accountable for the massive violation of human rights with the illegal wiretapping.

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