Monday, 29 November 2021 | News today: 0

Zaev didn’t show up at his court case again

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The leader of the Macedonian opposition Social Democrat Union (SDSM) Zoran Zaev refused to appear before the court on Monday, on the second hearing of the trial in which he is accused of cooperating with the former spy chief Zoran Verusevski to try and bring down the Government.

The charges come from the so-­called Coup case, in which Zaev published hundreds of illegally obtained audio tapes, allegedly recorded by a rogue spy ring led by Verusevski. The Public Prosecutor asked that the Basic Court I again seizes Zaev’s passport, given that he is no longer cooperating with the Court. Several months ago Zaev said that he does not recognize the competence of the Court to continue the case against him, didn’t appear at the first hearing, and practically asked the Court to order his arrest saying that he will be together with his supporters in the SDSM party headquarters.

The charges are filed against Zaev and Verusevski, several former and current officials from the UBK secret service recruited by Verusevski, Verusevski’s wife and an associate of Zaev’s. The Verusevski group is charged of conducting espionage for political and business gains, allegedly even in cooperation with a foreign intelligence service, and eventually trying to use the tapes they made as tool that would bring Zaev’s SDSM into the Government. Zvonko Kostovski, one of the charged UBK surveillance technicians, already confessed in exchange for a reduced sentence, while Verusevski has conducted himself defiantly in Court.

Zaev’s defense team said that they want the court case to be delayed until after 15 September, which is the final dead­line until which the major political parties in Macedonia need to agree on a special prosecutor, who will investigate allegations SDSM makes against the ruling VMRO-­DPMNE party based on the content of the tapes. Talks on the special prosecutor are on­going behind closed doors, and it is unclear whether they could replace the case that is already started in Skopje’s Basic Court I, that deals with the origin of the tapes and the illegal wiretapping. At the first hearing, the Court responded that it can’t work based on political agreements, and that the charges are filed against Zaev and Verusevski and they need to be acted upon.