Bulgarian Ex Defense Minister Gets 2nd Acquittal for Malfeasance

Crime | November 10, 2011, Thursday // 12:44|  views

Former Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev has been cleared of accusations of official misconduct by the second-instance court. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Military Appellate Court on Thursday confirmed the acquittal of former Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev accused of malfeasance in office carried out some ten years ago.

On 07 March, the Sofia Military Court, the court of first instance, cleared Tsonev of accusations of official misconduct during his tenure as head of the Procurement Management Directorate at the Ministry of Defense.

Tsonev was charged with signing four damaging contracts for the supply of canned meat, pork, spare parts for trucks and Chavdar buses, Skoda car engines and aircraft equipment in 1999, thereby depriving the Ministry of Defense of over BGN 970 000 while ensuring profits for a number of private companies.

The decision of the Military Appellate Court can be appealed before the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS) within a 15-day period.

Tsonev is also standing trial on bribe charges.

Tsonev, Sofia City Court judge, Petar Santirov, and former Chief Secretary of the Finance Ministry, Tencho Popov have been charged with attempting to bribe investigator Petyo Petrov with EUR 20 000 to extract a positive outcome for Tsonev of an investigation against him.

Tsonev, who was part of the previous, Socialist-led coalition cabinet from the quota of former Tsar Simeon Saxe-Coburg's party National Movement for Stability and Prosperity (NMSP), was arrested on April 1, 2010, in a much advertised police operation that generated strong public controversy.

The police operation, which was filmed and broadcast by the Interior Ministry, spurred a public outrage of police brutality as masked police officers made him kneel to the ground while Deputy Sofia City Prosecutor Roman Vasilev called him "an absolute criminal".

The Ethics Commission at Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) later penalized Vasilev with a disciplinary reprimand for his inappropriate behavior during the arrest.

The former Defense Minister is suing the Bulgarian state in Strasbourg over the humiliation that he suffered during his police arrest.

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Tags: Supreme Court of Cassations (VKS), Military Appellate Court, Sofia City Prosecutor, Roman Vasilev, Strasbourg court, arrest, Tencho Popov, Petar Santirov, Nikolay Tsonev, Defence Ministry


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