Bulgaria Ex Ministers Face Grilling over Corruption Charges Sept

Crime | August 17, 2010, Tuesday // 12:36|  views

A file picture shows Bulgarian former Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev speaking to journalists at Sofia City Prosecutor's Office. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Sergey Stanishev, Bulgaria's former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Socialist Party, is expected to be questioned at the beginning of September, nearly two months after he was formally charged over the leak of a classified report on organized crime that shattered the country last year.

Stanishev was indicted last month for mislaying classified documents. The contentious year-old top secret report by the National Security Agency (DANS), which sheds light on the influence of criminal organizations within certain ministries and state agencies, was mysteriously handed over to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov by notorious security agent Aleksei Petrov at the end of October and was unofficially published online days after.

Aleksei Petrov was arrested in February 2010 in a much publicized special police operation codenamed “Octopus”, and is currently jailed facing charges of leading an organized crime ring.

Late in October 2009 Stanishev was questioned over the concealment and leaking of the classified report, but denied any wrongdoing and described the case as provocation and undue use of “pressure”.

Stanishev claims he properly returned the report to DANS, as required by law. Stanishev also relinquished his immunity as a MP, in order to facilitate the proceedings.

If formally charged, Stanishev will join four ministers from his cabinet who already face corruption charges: fellow Socialist and ex Labor Minister Emilia Maslarova; two former Agriculture Ministers, Valeri Tsvetanov and Nihat Kabil from DPS; and ex Defense Minister, Nikolay Tsonev from the NMSP.

Bulgaria's new center-right government, which swept the elections last July, is trying to shake off the country's reputation for rampant corruption and crime, and has pledged to step up the fight against graft.

This month Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turkish political party the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, was ordered to stand trial on embezzlement charges. Both Dogan and Stanishev deny wrongdoing.

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Tags: Nikolay Tsonev, Nihat Kabil, Valeri Tsvetanov, Emilia Maslarova, Ahmed Dogan, Stanishev, DANS, Sergey Stanishev, National Investigative Service, classified report on organized crime, National Security Agency (DANS), Aleksei Petrov, Boyko Borisov, Dogan


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