Fugitive Macedonian ex-PM ‘passed through’ Montenegro

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — A former prime minister who fled Macedonia while facing prison for a corruption conviction entered Montenegro from Albania on Sunday but left the same day, Montenegro’s police said Friday.

Nikola Gruevski passed through Montenegro on Nov. 11, when he wasn’t the subject of arrest warrants or any kind of detention advisory, police said. An international warrant for Gruevski’s arrest was issued two days later, and he now is in Hungary.

Montenegrin media reports said Gruevski traveled on to Serbia, which borders Hungary. He wrote Tuesday on Facebook that he was in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, seeking political asylum.

Macedonia has said it wants Hungary to extradite Gruevski, 48, a close ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

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Macedonia has no extradition agreement with Hungary, but can seek application of the European Convention on Extradition that binds members of the Council of Europe — to which both countries belong.

Macedonia’s current prime minister, Zoran Zaev, said police in Albania and Montenegro have provided documentation confirming Gruevski’s route through the two countries.

The ex-prime minister, Zaev said, traveled in a car with diplomatic license plates from Hungary.

“Maybe he was kidnapped,” he said sarcastically.

The Hungarian government has said it did not assist Gruevski in his departure from Macedonia and that his asylum request would be treated “purely as a legal issue.”

Gruevski fled after Macedonian police tried to arrest him to serve a two-year prison sentence. He was convicted in May of unlawfully influencing Interior Ministry officials over the purchase of a luxury vehicle.

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Testorides reported from Skopje, Macedonia.

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