Ex-PM who fled the country gets jail term — RT World News

Former North Macedonian leader Nikola Gruevski, who remains a fugitive, was sentenced to nine years in prison for demolishing a building

Fugitive former North Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday for ordering the demolition of a building belonging to a political opponent.

Skopje Criminal Court handed down the sentence after finding Gruevski abused his power and ordered the 2011 demolition as an ‘act of political revenge’ against Fijat Canoski, a former ally who left the ruling coalition to lead a nascent opposition party. Canoski was developing a large residential complex, called the Cosmos Building, when the project was razed, reportedly due to permit violations.

Gruevski ruled the Balkan country, then called Macedonia, from 2006 to 2016. He has been convicted in absentia in four cases since fleeing to Hungary in 2018. The latest conviction marks his longest prison term. He was sentenced last month to serve seven years behind bars for using political funds to enrich himself, and he was given an 18-month sentence in 2020 for staging violent attacks on political opponents. Two other cases against him are still pending.

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The 51-year-old ex-PM, who currently describes himself as a consultant, compared his situation to a character in Franz Kafka’s novel ‘The Trial’ who was prosecuted and sentenced to death without knowing the allegations against him . On Friday, he posted a message on Twitter asking why he had destroyed buildings that were illegally constructed and therefore slated for demolition. “So is it better for me to answer for something that didn’t collapse and should have collapsed than something that didn’t collapse but had to?” He asked.

Gruevski was among four former government officials who were convicted in connection with the Cosmos demolition, while three others were found not guilty. Two former officials from the municipality of Skopje where the complex was being built, including former mayor Toni Trajkovski, were each sentenced to four years in prison. Former Transport Minister Mile Janakieski was given a three-year term. The defendants were ordered to pay a combined sum of 11 million euros ($11.6 million) in restitution.

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