A Skopje court rejected a request from the Special Prosecutor's Office (SPO) to freeze part of the assets of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party on May 23, according to local media reports.
SPO asked on May 22 for assets belonging to VMRO to be frozen as part of an investigation into illegal party financing that names former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski as the primary suspect. Gruevski is already under investigation by the SPO in separate cases. Political opponents claimed the decision to reject the request was taken because the courts are heavily influenced by VMRO, which will soon be in opposition.
The Criminal Court has rejected all 12 claims of the SPO for a temporary freeze of VMRO assets on suspicions the party received illicit funding, broadcaster 24vesti reported. The decision was made by judges in the preliminary proceeding.
The SPO dubbed the case concerning suspicions of illegal financing of VMRO-DPMNE between 2009 and 2015 as “Thaler” referring to the name of a silver coin used across Europe in the middle ages.
The SPO was established in 2015 to probe high-level crime revealed by a series of illegally made recordings made public by Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev. The revelation sparked a major scandal in the country, which led to mass protests and a snap general election in December 2016.
A new government led by the SDSM is expected to be formed within the coming days, ending a decade of rule by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE.
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