Suspected Macedonian fugitive charged over five-month crime spree

The accused allegedly carried out nine burglaries from shops in Valletta, Ħal Qormi, Sliema, Naxxar and Mellieħa and tried to break into shops in Birkirkara, Tarxien, Marsa and Gżira

File photo
File photo

A 32-year-old Macedonian man has been remanded in custody after being charged with stealing over €150,000 worth of cash, mobile phones and laptops in a five-month-long string of thefts from various shops across the islands.

Gruevski Vasko, who is understood to have travelled to Malta after escaping from prison in Skopje in Macedonia, was arraigned before magistrate Abigail Critien on Monday afternoon. Prosecutors pressed no less than 23 charges against the man, including nine counts of thefts and four of attempted theft, as well as making false declarations to public authorities, falsifying and making use of a falsified passport, driving a moped without a licence or insurance and recidivism, due to having several convictions abroad.

Vasko, who was arrested on Saturday following a police investigation into a series of thefts targeting shops in Valletta, Qormi, Sliema, Naxxar and Mellieha, appeared unperturbed in court before the sitting, chatting with his interpreter. He did not confirm his details in court today and neither did he enter a plea.

The court was told that Vasko was being accused of four attempted thefts from shops in Birkirkara, Tarxien, Marsa and Gzira. Some of the shops targeted were also damaged during the thefts.

The prosecution said that Vasko had been living in Malta under the assumed name of Georgiev Ivanov and had fake identification documents in that name.

Bail was not requested.

Lawyers Christopher Chircop was legal aid defence counsel. Police Inspectors Joseph Mercieca, Lydon Zammit, and Christine Delia prosecuted, assisted by lawyer Kevin Valletta from the Office of the Attorney General.