Skopje (AFP) - Macedonia's ex-prime minister Nikola Gruevski, whose powerful decade-long reign ended last year over a corruption and wiretapping scandal, went on trial Monday on corruption charges.
"This is clearly a biased trial," Gruevski said as he left court. "The goal is to convict us as soon as possible".
The conservative former premier has been charged with "abuse of power" and "exercising undue influence" because he allegedly accepted a bribe of 20 million euros ($23 million) from Chinese firms to grant them motorway construction concessions.
Gruevski is accused of awarding the construction of two highway sections on the western Kicevo-Ohrid highway and the eastern Miladinovci-Stip motorway to Chinese firms without a tender -- and of choosing the most expensive offers which added over 150 million euros in costs, prosecutors said.
The allegations surfaced after Social Democrat Zoran Zaev released tapes that appeared to confirm official wiretapping of 20,000 Macedonians, including politicians and journalists, and high-level corruption.
They led to Gruevski's resignation from government in January 2016 and plunged the country into a deep crisis. Gruevski also quit as conservative opposition leader of the VMRO-DPMNE party last week.
His trial is set to resume on December 26.