Lidija Dumbaloska, ex-lover of former Macedonian ambassador, discusses blackmail case (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )
The woman accused of blackmailing the former Macedonian ambassador over a laptop reportedly containing sensitive state secrets says the case against her should never have made it to trial.
Lidija Dumbaloska was charged with burglary, theft and blackmail in 2010 over an incident with her former partner, the then Macedonian ambassador Pero Stojanovski.
, after questions were raised about the former ambassador’s credibility.
The saga began in late December 2010 when Ms Dumbaloska used Mr Stojanovski’s computer while she waited for him to return to his home.
“I’d used that computer a number of times before that,” she said.
“I opened Internet Explorer, so suddenly the message was, ‘this page cannot be displayed’, so I thought to myself I’ll refresh the web page.Â
“I don’t know what letter I typed in the search bar, just the whole drop-down menu came in front of me and it’s shocking, the stuff I saw on that laptop.”
As the Supreme Court would later hear, the laptop’s search history included pornography of a perverse nature.
A separate discovery also caught Ms Dumbaloska off-guard.
“I opened the My Documents folder and what shocked me was he had probably 40 or 50 photos of my daughter, and there was only one of me, him and my daughter,” she said.
“So there was no photos of me. It just didn’t make sense.”
Ms Dumbaloska says she grabbed the laptop and left the house before soon getting a phone call from Mr Stojanovski, telling her “don’t look into anything anymore”.
Ambassador provides conflicting statements
Four days later officers from the Australian Federal Police arrived at Ms Dumbaloska’s door and she was subsequently charged with burglary, theft and blackmail.
Shortly after the incident, Mr Stojanovski gave a statement to police saying the laptop contained sensitive and secret information.
“It contains information relating to my work as the Ambassador of Macedonia and the information is very sensitive to me and also the embassy,” he told the AFP.
“The information on the computer would probably be rated as secret. There are some communications on this computer with me and the Macedonian prime minister.”
But later, in an interview on Macedonian television, he changed his account.
“No, there were no secrets, simply it was my private laptop where I had some private communication and correspondence with my family, relatives, friends in Macedonia and some private documents,” he said.
He alleged to police that Ms Dumbaloska tried to blackmail him for the computer â?? saying she would return it for $ 200,000.
“Well, at that time I actioned the matter as everyone else would,” Mr Stojanovski told Macedonian television.
“Simply I reported that someone got inside my house without permission, and took a private item. Look if there was not a case, the federal police in Australia would not have started a case. In this situation the AFP started a case because there was a case.
“If there was any criminal activity or if in any other way I abused my official position I believe the ministry and the top officials of the country would have asked me to resign.”
Ms Dumbaloska denies the blackmail allegation and that the relationship had ended at the time she entered his home.
“I did not, there was nothing to blackmail him,” she said.
“It wasn’t [after] government information or anything like that, why would I blackmail him?”
Trial a ‘waste of the court’s time’
When the case finally reached the Supreme Court, Ms Dumbaloska’s lawyer went on the offensive, targeting the former ambassador’s credibility.
Lawyer Rick Mitry told the court that he had uncovered evidence that would expose Mr Stojanovski as a fraud.
He said the key information related to a meeting at the Macedonian Embassy in 2011, when he asked Australian businessmen for financial assistance to enable him to receive treatment in France for terminal prostate cancer.
The three lenders have provided statements stating the event took place and Mr Stojanovski also signed a document referring to the loaned money and his “life threatening condition”.
However, the lenders became suspicious when they received information that he had was spotted at a Macedonian resort with a woman – not in France where he was to undergo surgery.
It turned out he did not have cancer at all and on the opening day of trial this month, prosecutor Anthony Williamson withdrew all charges and conceded Mr Stojanovski confirmed he never had cancer and would deny asking for money.
“It’s not a clear-cut case … I accept that whether the jury finds the accused guilty or not will, to a significant extent, rise and fall on their assessment of Mr Stojanovski’s credibility,” Mr Williamson told the court.
“In light of the further evidence that my friend says he has, if that is to come in it would be the Crown’s position that pursuing the trial is futile and it’s just a waste of the court’s time, the jury’s time, the parties’ time and we will not proceed further.”
Mr Stojanovski now lives in Melbourne, but declined to comment on this story. He paid the borrowed money back in the weeks before the trial began.
Ms Dumbaloska says she is relieved the case has been dropped and argues the case should never have gone as far as it did.
“I know it would’ve been much easier for me to plead guilty on something small. I didn’t have to spend the money I did,” she said.
“It would’ve been finished a long time ago. It just didn’t feel right.
“I can’t believe that it’s over – it took four years of my life.”