By Associated Press - Friday, November 9, 2018

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - A former Macedonian prime minister on Friday lost his final appeal against serving a two-year prison sentence over corruption-related charges.

A panel of judges at the Skopje criminal court said in a statement that they rejected Nikola Gruevski’s appeal after “reviewing all the facts and evidence” in the case.

It was not immediately clear whether Gruevski intended to hand himself in to authorities to serve the sentence.

The former leader of the conservative main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party was sentenced in May to two years in prison for unlawfully influencing Interior Ministry officials over the purchase of a luxury vehicle at an estimated cost of 600,000 euros ($680,000).

He was ordered to present himself at the capital Skopje’s “Shuto Orizari” prison Thursday, but submitted a last-minute appeal.

The 48-year-old politician, who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2016 and is still a VMRO lawmaker, had requested that the prison sentence be deferred, citing parliamentary duties.

VMRO leader Hristijan Mickoski condemned the court decision, claiming that Macedonia’s judiciary is “absolutely” under government control.

“Gruevski is a victim of political persecution,” Mickoski said in an interview with private TV Alfa channel.

Earlier Friday, Macedonian lawmakers fell short of votes needed to expel Gruevski as a member of parliament. Parliament voted 58-29 to revoke Gruevski’s mandate, but failed to secure the required two-thirds majority in the 120-seat assembly.

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