Far-Right Politician Arrested for Kidnapping, Killing Two, Including Teenage Girl

Turkish police have detained a far-right North Macedonian politician accused of kidnapping and killing two people, one of whom was a 14-year-old girl. 

Ljupco Palevski, a high-profile member of the extreme-right wing Desna party was arrested Tuesday by Turkish police days after fleeing North Macedonia upon the discovery of the bodies of a 14-year-old girl and a 74-year-old retired barber in shallow graves after weeks of searching for the missing pair. 

On Sunday, North Macedonian police found the bodies of both victims,14-year-old Vanja Gjorcevska from Skopje and Pance Zezovski, 74, a retired barber from Veles who was reported missing a few days before Gjorcevska.

Palevski, a prominent businessman and political figure, is suspected in orchestrating the kidnapping of the victims as part of a plan prosecutors suggest was an attempt to extort the profits of an apartment sale from the girl’s mother. Five suspects have been arrested, including Gjorcevska’s father, who is suspected of helping arrange his daughter’s kidnapping in an effort to extort money from his ex-wife, the victim’s mother.

Police allege that Palevski first demanded the use of Zezovski’s car over a 500 euro debt and used the vehicle to abduct Gjorevska a few days later, whose disappearance gripped North Macedonia for a week until her body was discovered last Sunday. Palevski is suspected of having shot both victims with a handgun, according to statements by the other four suspects taken into custody. 

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North Macedonian officials  said on Wednesday the arrest was made in coordination with Turkish authorities as Palevski attempted to travel from a northern Turkish town to Istanbul just hours after crossing the border to flee the North Macedonian arrest warrant. Palevski is believed to have fled first to Serbia, then Bulgaria before crossing into Turkey hours before his arrest.

“We will start the appropriate procedure [for extradition] immediately this morning, from the very start of our working hours,” North Macedonia’s Justice Minister, Krenar Loga, said on Wednesday, quoted in Balkan Insight, which has closely covered the case.

“Our services …communicated with the Turkish counterparts who told us that the person was located in Balikesir and wanted to leave for Istanbul. He used a taxi driver as a decoy for his trip to Istanbul but he in fact returned to Balikesir. Turkish police arrested him … on one of the highways in the area while he was on foot,” North Macedonia’s Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski said.

Palevski, widely known by his nickname “Palco,” is a notorious right-wing figure in North Macedonian politics known for spreading disinformation targeting Macedonia’s  Albanian minority via social media and pressing hard for anti-immigration policies. The Desna party and Palevski have been repeatedly accused of pushing pro-Russian views in an effort to destabilise the tiny NATO country on Europe’s southern flank.


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