Witnesses Vouch for Bulgaria Ex Defense Minister in Court

Crime | April 21, 2010, Wednesday // 14:52|  views

Nikolay Mladenov, Bulgaria's Foreign Minister and former Defense Ministers in the GERB cabinet waits to be called to the witness stand in the case against ex Defense Minister, Nikolay Tsonev. Photo by BGNES

The Sofia City Court rejected Wednesday the Defense Ministry BGN 8 M claim against the former head of the institution, Nikolay Tsonev.

The amount is deemed by the Ministry the material damage caused by an improper deal for the purchase a hangar-making machine, which is one of the charges against Tsonev. The magistrates said they rejected the claim because the Defense Ministry becoming a civil claimant would hinder the case.

One of the witnesses called by the Court was Nikolay Mladenov, Bulgaria's Foreign Minister and former Defense Ministers, both posts in the cabinet of the ruling Citizens of European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) cabinet.

Mladenov told the magistrates he was the one sending the documentation for the deal to the Prosecutor's Office over the violations he discovered such as having just one candidate, a US company, as a bidder in the public tender. The hangar machine is still at the Customs in the Black Sea City of Varna because the Ministry does not have funds to pay the duties and fees.

Several employees of the Defense Ministry, who were members of the Commission involved in the public tender, also took the witness stand, saying their former boss has not committed violations and even bragged about being able to secure free shipping and payment of the experts' salaries by the US company.

The witnesses also stated Nikolay Tsonev never interfered with their work, did not offer recommendations about the winning bid, and it was the Commission which approved the US bidder.

The prosecutor said the decision to purchase the “useless equipment” was a political one.

The next trial was scheduled for mid-May.

Nikolay Tsonev was arrested in the beginning of April over bribe charges.

On April 8, the Sofia Appellate Court ruled to keep behind bars Tsonev, financial consultant Tencho Popov, and Petar Santirov, claiming that if released on bail they could influence the summoned witnesses. The three men were busted on April 1 over an attempt to bribe Sofia investigator Petyo Petrov in order to obstruct Tsonev’s triаl for abuses he allegedly committed during his term as Defense Minister in 2008-2009.

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Tags: Roman Vasilev, Prosecutor, Nikolay Tsonev, Defense Minister, arrest, Tencho Popov, Petyo Petrov, investigator, Petar Santirov, Sofia City Court, Nikolay Mladenov

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