North Macedonia's former special prosecutor in charge of investigating organized crime and corruption has been sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office.
A Skopje court on June 18 found Katica Janeva guilty of working with an intermediary friend who took 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) from one of the Balkan country’s wealthiest businessmen, Orce Kamcev, who is under investigation in a separate case.
The middleman -- high-profile entertainer and television owner Bojan Jovanovski -- was sentenced to nine years in prison for bribery and money laundering.
Skopje's criminal court found that Janeva had agreed to "softer measures" during the inquiry into Kamcev, including allowing the suspect to be held in house detention and developing a plan to only fine him, according to the verdict.
Janeva "has destroyed the trust of the public in the justice system," the court said.
Both Janeva and Jovanovski claim innocence and can appeal the verdict.
The whereabouts of the 1.5 million euros in extortion money is unknown, RFE/RL’s Balkan Service reported.
The so-called “Extortion” case mired former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in controversy, since Jovanovski boasted of his connections with senior officials in the Social Democratic government.
Janeva was arrested in August 2019 after the Italian newspaper La Verita published audio and video recordings alleging she was involved in the bribery scheme.
The graft inquiry into Kamcev, known as the "Empire" investigation, has been completed, but prosecutors have not yet decided to file charges.
The special prosecutor's office was established in 2015 to investigate high-profile crime as part of a deal brokered by the European Union to end a political crisis and restore faith in the judiciary.
North Macedonia seeks EU membership and a condition for joining the club is fighting corruption and organized crime.