November 8, 2017 / 3:45 PM / a year ago

Macedonian court sentences ex-secret police official to 18 months in prison

SKOPJE, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A senior official of Macedonia’s secret police was sentenced to 18 months in prison for destroying evidence that could have helped identify who was behind a wiretapping scandal that brought down a previous government.

Goran Grujevski, who ran the secret police department conducting the wiretapping operations, was found guilty of destroying documents from the period when the wiretapping took place. He is awaiting extradition after being arrested in Greece last month.

Macedonia was thrown into political turmoil in 2015, when opposition parties accused then-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his counter-intelligence chief of orchestrating the wiretapping of more than 20,000 people.

The political crisis led the European Union to broker an agreement in which parties agreed to hold early elections and set up a special prosecutor to investigate the wiretappings. Wednesday’s verdict is the first ruling in a case the special prosecutor opened two years ago.

In June, Macedonia’s special prosecutor filed charges against 94 people, including former high government officials, over their involvement in possible crimes revealed by the surveillance scandal.

Macedonia’s new government, which took over in May, said it would assist in investigating and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the wiretapping scandal. (Reporting by Kole Casule; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Larry King)

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