Saturday, February 24, 2007

39 police, customs officers arrested for alleged corruption

SKOPJE, Macedonia: Macedonian authorities arrested 39 police and customs officers during a large corruption crackdown Friday, officials said.

The arrests were made at four crossings on the borders with Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, Deputy Interior Minister Voislav Zafirovski said.

He said special police units searched the detainees' homes, cars and offices to gather further evidence, while nine more suspects were being sought.

The suspects allegedly demanded bribes in exchange for not levying taxes and dues on goods being carried across the border, said Ljupco Todorovski, director of Macedonia's National Public Security Bureau.

"The operation is still under way," Todorovski told The Associated Press.

He said the arrests followed a two-month surveillance operation, after authorities received complaints from travelers.

The small Balkan country is under pressure from European Union officials to tackle corruption if it is to receive a starting date for EU entry talks.

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