Sunday, July 20, 2008

Macedonian opposition figure charged with corruption; critics claim the charge is political

A key opposition figure in Macedonia has been released on bail a day after being arrested and charged in a corruption probe.

Deputy leader Zoran Zaev and four aides were arrested Thursday on suspicion of embezzling euro7.8 million (US$12.4 million) in public funds during the construction of a shopping mall in the southern town of Strumica. His Social Democratic party walked out of parliament in protest, calling the detention a political move by Macedonia's conservative government. Several hundred protesters also marched to the court building.

Zaev, who is also the mayor of Strumica, has been charged with abuse of authority. The Skopje District Court ordered all five to turn in their passports. No date for their trial has been set yet.

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