Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Probe widens in FYROM military corruption scandal

Prosecutors in the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia (FYROM) have launched a probe Wednesday into the alleged involvement of former prime minister Vlado Buckovski into an arms procurement scandal that led to the arrest of the country's retired army chief.

The office of public prosecution said the investigation was ordered based on a request by the police's fraud agency.

The office gave no details of Buckovski's alleged involvement.

On Tuesday, a former army chief of staff, retired Gen. Metodi Stamboliski, 60, was arrested on suspicion of ordering four times the quantity of tank parts required by the armed forces in November 2001, costing the state €1.8 million (US$2.5 million).

The arms deal was signed after a conflict between FYROM government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 2001. The six-month conflict is blamed for the deaths of 80 people.

Buckovski was defense minister when the order was signed. He then served as Social Democrat prime minister between 2004 and 2006, when the party was defeated in elections by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservatives.

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