Bulgaria Interior Head: Top Magistrate Linked with Octopus Mafia

Crime | March 24, 2010, Wednesday // 09:30|  views

Interior Minister Tsvetanov (middle) revealed a witness testifying against former Labor Minister Maslarova has been threatened. Photo by BGNES

A leading member of Bulgaria’s judicial system has connections with alleged organized crime figures, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said.

Speaking on bTV Wednesday, the Minister alleged that a top magistrate has been in close contacts with the so called “Octopus” mafia, the group around former secret agent Aleksei Petrov who was arrested in February together with several other persons on organized crime charges in a police operation codenamed Octopus.

“This person’s close friendship with certain people is unacceptable for a member of the judiciary. The situation is a very bad one because this man is very active within the judicial system,” Tsvetanov explained while not making it clear if the problematic judge will be investigated.

Tsvetanov further revealed that one of the witnesses in the trial of former Labor Minister Emiliya Maslarova, who is facing charges of criminal breach of trust and abuse of power during her term (2005-2009), has been threatened to give up testifying.

Thus, Tsvetanov has confirmed a recent statement of Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov that one of the witnesses against the ex minister has faced "physical pressure".

With respect to Tuesday’s special operation codenamed “Spongers” against VAT draining in which six men were arrested, Tsvetanov said the group incurred a loss of BGN 10 M to the state budget. He pointed out that there are numerous such smaller groups specializing in financial crimes.

Tsvetanov further revealed that the police were cracking down on storehouses with illegal alcohol and facilities for production of fake excise stamps.

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Tags: Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Interior Minister, judicial system, magistrate, Octopus, Spongers, Emiliya Maslarova


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