North Macedonia's ex-leader, now fugitive, is convicted again at home

SKOPJE (North Macedonia) -- On Wednesday, a court in North Macedonia imposed a new sentence on Nikola Gruevski.

North Macedonia's ex-leader, now fugitive, is convicted again at home

SKOPJE (North Macedonia) -- On Wednesday, a court in North Macedonia imposed a new sentence on Nikola Gruevski. This time, it was a six-year term for a violation of power regarding the financing of the party's headquarters in Skopje.

Gruevski was convicted for the fifth time since his departure from office in 2016, after a decade of power. Gruevski denied any wrongdoing and claimed political persecution. Gruevski fled to Hungary before the first sentence could be executed in 2018, and was granted asylum there.

The country's Criminal Court ordered Wednesday the confiscation by Gruevski of his conservative VMRO/DPMNE party's eight-story central Skopje headquarters, which were constructed during his tenure in office, as well as dozens of other property belonging to the party.

Gruevski, along with another ex-VMRO-DPMNE official, were found to have misused the services a construction firm that was heavily involved in a separate government-run development project in central Skopje. The court found that the company paid the entire cost of the party headquarters, which was 7 million euros, as a donation for VMRO-DPMNE. This is a violation of party financing laws.

Gruevski was first found guilty in 2018 of illegally inducing interior ministry officials to purchase a luxury armored vehicle. He was sentenced to two year imprisonment.

He was sentenced to another 1 1/2 year in prison in 2020 for orchestrating violence against political opponents. He was sentenced to seven years in April 2022 for using party funds to benefit himself. He was sentenced to a new 9-year term in April 2022 for using party funds to enrich himself.

Gruevski is currently facing at least one additional case for alleged corruption and election irregularities, as well as abuse of office. These charges are a result of a wiretapping scam that occurred in 2015. It was discovered that more than 20,000 phone conversations had been illegally recorded. This included politicians, judges and police.

Gruevski's government was thrown out by the scandal and he lost the 2016 election to the Social Democrat opposition.

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