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From 23 to 27 September 2018, the Macedonian special prosecution office was in Berlin to learn about “The criminal investigation process in Germany”. The working visit was organised by the IRZ as part of a project financed by the German Foreign Office. The special prosecution office was set up at the instigation of the EU, after approx. 600,000 phone calls made by at least 20,000 Macedonian citizens had been illegally recorded. The special prosecution office also resolves other criminal investigations involving high-ranking politicians and other officials.
The delegation led by special prosecutor Katica Janeva was made up of six employees from the special prosecution office, who completed an extensive programme. The working visit began with a welcome to the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection by senior government official Dr. Christiane Unland-Schlebes, INT-KOR department, and two expert lectures by regional court judges Dr. Lasse Dinter, department RB2/RB3, and EStA Dr. Frank Böhme, department II A4.
These were followed by other lectures and expert talks by and including (in chronological order):
Former Head of Criminal Investigations, Hans-Dieter Hilken,
Senior Public Prosecutor Frank Seidel, Frankfurt/Oder,
Senior Public Prosecutor Björn Kelpin, Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office, and
Police Chief Superintendent, Frank Pein, Berlin.
Former Senior Public Prosecutor, Ralf Rother, Berlin, was also available for an exchange of thoughts and experiences.
The official Foreign Office representative for South-East Europe, Turkey and the EFTA countries, Ambassador Dr. Christian Hellbach, also welcomed the delegation to the Foreign Office.
Thanks to the speakers’ expertise in a broad range of subjects, as well as their extensive practical experience, the Macedonian guests were able to gain an insight into the criminal investigation process in Germany. They were particularly interested in learning about the fight against corruption, money laundering and asset recovery.
Two examples from the latest German legislation, namely § 299a of the penal code “Corruption in healthcare” and § 73 of the penal code in the version resulting from the law on the reform of the recovery of criminal assets from 2017, were seen by the participants in the delegation de lege ferenda as solutions for Macedonian law.
Since the IRZ is currently having the German penal code (StGB) translated into Macedonian as part of another project, these standards and the translated excerpts from the reasoning of the law will be made available to the Macedonian Ministry of Justice and other disseminators in the country.
The event was also supported by the German Federal Bar, which provided the premises for the expert talks, since the meeting room in the “home of the law”, the headquarters of the Berlin subsidiary of the IRZ, was not available due to ongoing renovation work.
From 13 to 19 May 2018, a group of twelve female judges and public prosecutors from Macedonia was invited by the IRZ to Bonn for a working visit. The visit took place as part of a programme to support young Macedonian legal practitioners, which was made possible by the German Federal Foreign Office. Since most of the exclusively female legal practitioners work in criminal law, the programme focussed mainly on this area. There were also events on the subject of civil law.
The visit began with a one-day event, during which former Senior Public Prosecutor, Manfred Stotz, gave an introduction into German criminal law and in particular criminal procedure law. This was followed by expert talks with Public Prosecutor Stephanie Faßbender at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Bonn, where the group was welcomed by its deputy head, Senior Public Prosecutor Annelie Meinert. The working trip continued with visits to the police headquarters in Bonn and to criminal hearings, during which the above-mentioned subjects were looked at in more detail.
The Macedonian guests were welcomed to the police headquarters in Bonn by Chief Commissioner Ursula Brohl-Sowa. Afterwards, they talked with Head of Criminal Investigations, Martin Göbel, Deputy Director of the Crime Division, and Rainer Bell, Detective Chief Inspector and Director of Crime Division 21, which deals with fighting organised crime. At the Regional Court, they were able to observe a criminal trial directed by the President, Claudia Gelber.
The former President of the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, Johannes Riedel, gave an introduction to civil law, including judicial service law, with a particular focus on official appraisals. This area was looked at in more depth at the Regional Court of Bonn, following a welcome by its Vice-President, Dr. Markus Weber, and the Department Head of Presidential Administration, regional court judge Dr. Tobias Gülich, with a visit to several civil trials, which were directed by the presiding judge, Eva Hoppe.
The programme was rounded off with other appointments, such as a visit to the library at the criminal law institute at the Faculty of Law in Bonn.
The event revealed a number of differences between the approaches in the two countries, which are caused not only by legal regulations but also by country-specific customs and traditions. The civil proceedings were summed up by the participants as follows: “In Germany, the judges work towards settlements and the parties accept this. The judges also point out to each party the shortcomings in their submissions, without giving the impression that the court is prejudiced.”
To increase the sustainability of the working visit, the participants were given a whole range of translations of legislation and other texts on German law, which have been produced over the years as part of the wealth of publications by the IRZ in South-East Europe.
Further written material, which was used during the expert discussions and was met with great interest by the Macedonian guests, will be translated into Macedonian following the working visit. The range of topics encompasses court press releases to a sample agreement between a leading senior public prosecutor’s office and a police headquarters about cooperation in criminal cases.
The IRZ has been appointed by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) to lead the “Supporting young legal talent in Macedonia” project. Within this framework, young Macedonian judges and public prosecutors will learn about German law and the way their German colleagues work during a working visit to Germany.
Before being allowed to take part in this trip, prospective participants must pass an exam at the end of a three-day introductory course in German law, which was held from 27 to 29 November in Skopje.
This introductory course was designed to underline the differences between Germany and Macedonia, both in terms of the law in its written form and legal practice. As well as legal regulations, such as provisional enforceability and the institution of the German Rechtspfleger (judicial officer), the active management of German civil proceedings by judges was also one of the subjects of discussion. The exam consisted of an oral test and a written paper, which had to be taken anonymously by seat number – something that is unusual in Macedonia.
At the end of the event, speeches were made by the German Ambassador, Thomas Gerberich, and by the Director of the Macedonian Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors, Judge Aneta Arnaudovska. The latter emphasised the successful cooperation with the IRZ since the Academy was first set up eleven years ago, which she credited with excellent results.
Ambassador Gerberich pointed out that the German and Macedonian legal systems both fall under continental European law and have already been harmonised with EU law. This makes the German system of particular interest to Macedonian law professionals. He also said that the measures are coming at the right time, since they are taking place at the beginning of the legal reform planned by the new government.
The leading Macedonian legal online portal “Akademik.mk” also reported extensively on the event, which was the first of its kind. The report pointed out the main difference between Germany and Macedonia, which is that in Germany judges are assessed above all for their social expertise.
Following the working visit to Germany by the young law professionals, which is planned for the first quarter of 2018, a debriefing seminar will take place in Macedonia, during which the event will be assessed. During this seminar, they will also work out which ideas could be implemented by the participants in their own practices.