Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Italian Mafia experts to help Macedonia fight organized crime

SKOPJE, Macedonia-Italian experts who deal with the Mafia will help train Macedonian police in fighting organized crime as part of a program funded by the European Union, officials said Wednesday.

Justice Minister Mihajlo Manevski said the two-year project will promote contacts with Italy's Ministry of Justice and the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences, based in Sicily, as well as Italian police officers who deal with organized crime.

"This project is timely. Macedonia has intensified its efforts to reform the judiciary system and is resolved to give the battle against organized crime and corruption the highest priority," Manevski said.

Macedonia is hoping to start EU-entry talks next year, and has promised to crack down on organized crime networks as part of those commitments.

The Italian experts will help in a review of Macedonia's legislative framework, recruit some 40 crime-fighting experts, provide training seminars, and help upgrade crime-fighting data systems.

The project is being sponsored by the European Agency for Reconstruction.

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