Home Balkan SJO may prosecute head of state, ambassadors, judges

SJO may prosecute head of state, ambassadors, judges

The new draft-law on special prosecutors empowers the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SJO) to prosecute the head of the state, foreign ambassadors and other diplomats accredited to the country.

The SJO, tasked to prosecute criminal offenses related to and arising from the contents of the illegally intercepted communication, will be transformed into special public prosecution office.

The chairperson of SJO will be named by the Council of Public Prosecutors to a five-year term. Besides criminal offenses related to the illegal wiretapping, the SJO will be empowered to prosecute criminal offenses perpetrated by the country’s president , ambassadors and other representatives accredited to the country, president’s appointees, dignitaries, lawmakers, judges, Judicial Council members, public prosecutors, mayors, and political party dignitaries for offenses related to elections and voting, environment and nature, spatial planning, cultural heritage and natural rarities, public funds management, payment operations and economy.

The panel, originally set up to rein corruption and criminal conduct by officials, claimed evidence showing that from 2008 to 2015 the communication systems in the Security and Counter-intelligence Agency (DBK) were used to unlawfully intercept communications of over 4.000 phone numbers, without any court orders. Scores of people, among them former officials, have been investigated on suspicion of wiretapping the conversations of politicians, journalists and businessmen. The country was thrown into crisis in February 2015 when the then-opposition Social Democrats accused then-prime minister Nikola Gruevski of authorizing the tapping of more than 20,000 people’s phones.