North Macedonia: 9 police officers arrested for corruption

December 27, 2022 GMT

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — The commander of the police station at one of North Macedonia’s border crossings to Serbia, his deputy and seven other station staff have been arrested for allegedly taking bribes from motorists to ease their crossing, authorities said Tuesday.

Tackling corruption is a major priority for North Macedonia’s government, and a major prerequisite for advancement of the country’s European Union accession bid.

A police statement said the nine officers stationed at the Tabanovce crossing faced charges of “criminal association, bribery and abuse of authority.” A further three officers were charged but not arrested.

Police said the suspects had operated in an organized manner for more than two years, allegedly taking cash and gifts from people who wanted to skip normal procedures for crossing into Serbia.

During a series of raids at the police station and officers’ homes, police seized the equivalent of about 16,500 euros ($17,500) in different denominations, and other items.

If tried and convicted, the suspects each face up to 20 years in jail.

North Macedonia, a tiny Balkan country of about 1.8 million people, started accession talks with the EU in July. Fighting corruption is one of the most important prerequisites for its bid to succeed, and has been singled out by President Stevo Pendarovski as a major priority.