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Court orders freeze on Macedonia opposition party’s property

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia’s criminal court on Thursday ordered the temporary freezing of property belonging to the main conservative opposition party as part of an investigation into allegations of unlawful political financing.

The court said the order was made following a request from the special prosecution office dealing with cases related to a wiretapping scandal that broke in 2015.

The prosecution office asked for a freeze on the selling or leasing of 69 real estate properties owned by the VMRO-DPMNE party, including its headquarters. The party had announced it intended to lease its headquarters building and sell one apartment in the capital, Skopje.

Prosecutors began an investigation in May 2017 against 14 people, including former conservative prime minister Nikola Gruevski, on allegations the party received 4.9 million euros in unlawful funding.

VMRO condemned the court’s decision, accusing the government of singling it out for “political persecution.”

Party secretary general Igor Janushev said VMRO has appealed the court order.

“We demand that this temporary measure should be (rescinded) urgently,” he said. “The party as a legal entity is not suspected, and this is beyond all legal norms.”

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