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North Macedonia jails former spy chief

SKOPJE, REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA - 13 MAY 2017: Skopje City Center and Alexander the Great Monument, Macedonia

A court in North Macedonia has sentenced Sasho Mijalkov, the former director of the country’s intelligence agency to three years in prison for meddling in the country’s 2013 municipal elections.

According to the court verdict, the former intelligence chief and Menduh Thaci, the former leader of the Democractic Party of Albanians (DPA) “illegally influenced” the 2013 mayoral election in Strumica by making an agreement with three members of the city’s electoral commission to annul the results and provide the candidate of the then ruling VRMO-DPRMNE party with a second opportunity to win.

In return, Mr Mijalkov promised Mr Thaci to influence the electoral commission in the Skopje municipality of Cair, where the DPA’s candidate had lost.

“You will vote [for the election in Strumica] to be annulled because we have an agreement on Cair, come on,” Mr Mijalkov was heard telling Mr Thaci on a wiretap released in early 2015.

Mr Mijalkov is a cousin and close ally of Macedonia’s former prime minister Nikola Gruevski, who was granted political asylum in Hungary last year after being sentenced to prison for corruption. He is also accused of being one of the masterminds behind the illegal wiretapping of thousands of North Macedonians during the previous VRMO-DPRMNE-led government.