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Bulletproof Mercedes Can't Shield Macedonian Ex-PM From Corruption Conviction

Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (file photo)
Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (file photo)

A Macedonian court has sentenced former conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to two years in jail for unlawfully influencing officials over the purchase of a luxury bulletproof vehicle.

The court in the capital, Skopje, ruled on May 23 that Gruevski, who led the government from 2006 to 2016, had put pressure on Interior Ministry officials in the 2012 purchase of his Mercedes at an estimated cost of 600,000 euros (around $700,000).

Gruevski, who was not present in court when the verdict was read, will remain free pending an appeal.

He was convicted on the basis of evidence from audio material collected during a massive wiretapping scandal that erupted in 2015 and contributed to the fall of his government.

The judge ruled to accept the audio material as evidence as it was in the public interest.

The wiretapping scandal ignited massive street protests, both for and against Gruevski's government, and led to early elections.

Following the vote, Social Democratic leader Zoran Zaev took over as prime minister in May last year.

Gruevski’s government denied responsibility for the wiretapping, blaming foreign spy agencies.

With reporting by AP

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