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What connects the murder of the 14-year-old girl with that of the elderly barber in North Macedonia?

2023-12-04 19:05:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

What connects the murder of the 14-year-old girl with that of the elderly barber

A strange case of a kidnapping and double murder, including that of a 14-year-old girl, has shocked North Macedonia, after police arrested three suspects and found the bodies of the gunshot victims.

Three of the five suspects in the kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Vanja Gjorcevska from Skopje, who disappeared seven days ago, as well as the murder of another person, retired barber from Veles, Pance Zezovski, have been detained and have admitted involvement, the head of the Skopje Prosecutor's Office, Gavril Bubevski, said on Monday.

On Sunday evening, authorities confirmed they had found the bodies of the two victims, who are believed to have been killed by the same group. They were discovered in various locations after the suspects discovered their shallow graves.

However, Bubevski said the main suspect in the killings is still at large.

Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, who attended the same press conference, said they believe the main suspect, who he indirectly confirmed was local businessman and right-wing activist Ljupco Palevski, fled the country a few days ago, fleeing first to neighboring Serbia and then to Bulgaria.

"After that, we are still investigating his tracks," said Spasovski.

More questions than answers

Monday's joint press conference was intended to calm the situation, but ended up raising even more questions.

While the prosecutor and the minister suspect that the motive behind the kidnapping of the young girl was to extort money from her mother, they said they still have no explanation as to why initial investigations showed that the teenager was killed just hours after the kidnapping, which took place on 27 November inside the corridor of her palace.

"This is an issue that is developing from hour to hour. I cannot give you answers about everything at this moment as the investigation must continue", said Bubevski.

And while authorities said the suspects' testimony suggests the girl's father leaked information about her movements to the killer/suspect, Spasovski was unable to answer whether the girl's parents had separated.

Bubevski said these allegations are only circumstantial and it was not clear if the father is also one of the suspects.

The girl's relationship with the pensioner from Veles is also a mystery. Authorities say the only link is the barber's car, which was used in the girl's abduction and then burned near Skopje, only to be found later by police.

"The man may have been a casualty, just so his vehicle could be used. "From the testimony of the arrested suspects, he allegedly owed about 500 euros to the first suspect, so maybe that was the reason why he was chosen," said Bubevski.

Zezovski, 74, was reported missing on Nov. 24, and authorities said at this time they have no reason to believe the two victims or their families knew each other.

Exchanges of political accusations

The main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE on Monday demanded the "immediate resignation" of Interior Minister Spasovski, accusing him of incompetence.

She also claimed that the main suspect who is on the run was close to the ruling Social Democrats, whom they accuse of widespread corruption.

He "is a former senior official of the ruling Social Democrats, among other things, part of a criminal blackmail gang ... which is clearly close to the government," the opposition wrote.

From the available records, in the 1990s, Palevski was a prominent member of the Skopje branch of the now ruling Social Democrats, who was also involved in the construction sector.

But over the past decade his political views have shifted to the extreme right, so much so that he is one of the founders of the fringe right-wing party "Desna" (The Right), whose social media posts espouse anti-Western views. of the Pan-Slavic brotherhood and the pro-Russian ones.

Known only to a small part of the population, Palevski has recently hosted a political podcast and has often posted his political views online./ BIRN

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