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Macedonian Court Rejects Plea For Ex-Prime Minister's Pretrial Detention

Nikola Gruevski

A Macedonian court has rejected a request to place former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and four other officials in pretrial custody ahead of their trial on election fraud charges.

The Appeals Court confirmed the ruling on its website on July 25.

On July 3, a court ordered that passports be seized from Gruevski and the four other officials in his conservative party, including two former cabinet ministers, in connection with a major wiretapping scandal.

The order was announced after Gruevski and the former ministers of the interior and transportation, Gordana Jankuloska and Mile Janakieski, were indicted for allegedly violating election campaign finance rules and related offenses in a special prosecutor's probe into illegal wiretapping.

The special prosecutor made a plea to the court to place them in pretrial custody, claiming the defendants might flee the country or influence witnesses during their trials.

The court also rejected a request by the defendants to be given their passports back.

Their trial is expected to begin in September or October.

Gruevski denies wrongdoing and blames foreign spies.