North Macedonian surgeon and hospital owner Zan Mitrev has been charged with fraud for allegedly tricking patients into undergoing expensive and experimental COVID-19 treatment.
North Macedonia’s prosecution said Tuesday that it had filed fraud charges against Mitrev and his clinic, regarding the fraudulent treatment of 283 patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
Mitrev’s patients were led to trust the so-called hemofiltration method offered by the clinic to customers willing to pay a high price. Patients were led to believe the treatment was an alternative and successful means of treatment, rather than merely an experimental treatment.
The prosecution said it was in possession of evidence that showed Mitrev “concealed key facts” between June 2020 and 2022 regarding the hemofiltration process. He was charged with fraud for leading patients and their relatives to place false hope in the process.
As a result of his fraudulent actions, Mitrev’s clinic brought in some 97 million denars, equal to about 1.6 million euros, said the Prosecutor’s Office.
Mitrev is one of the most famous cardiovascular surgeons in North Macedonia. He now faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty of fraud.
The case became public earlier this year when an investigative document about the clinic, named “Impure Blood,” was aired by the Investigative Reporting Lab.
The documentary, released in July, showed testimonies from patients and their relatives alleging that the hemofiltration treatment was an experimental process. In most cases, individuals and their families had paid thousands of euros for the treatment.
In response to the charges, the Zan Mitrev clinic said it was ready to prove in court that the charges laid against it were nothing more than unfounded “attacks and accusations.”
Mitrev has denied any wrongdoing on several occasions, and has also threatened to sue journalists from the Investigative Reporting Lab. Mitrev has also called on authorities to ban the Investigative Reporting Lab from airing reports regarding his clinic.
Last weekend, however, Mitrev wrote on Facebook that he has forgiven the reporters for airing false accusations against him. Aligning his comments with the Orthodox Christmas, Mitrev said he had changed his mind about suing the Investigative Reporting Lab.
One of the journalists behind the Investigative Reporting Lab report, Saska Cvetkovska, responded to Mitrev’s comments on social media by saying she hopes the judiciary won’t be as forgiving as Mitrev.
“I hope that the judiciary system will not be in a celebratory, forgiving mood and that we will finally see charges pressed against the doctor,” Cvetkovska wrote.
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