New Glitch Delays Bulgaria's SAPARD Fraud Trial

Crime | May 21, 2012, Monday // 13:24|  views

In March 2012, Judge Krasimira Medarova self-recused from the SAPARD fraud trial. Photo by BGNES

The trial against notorious Bulgarian businessmen Mario Nikolov and Lyudmil Stoykov for large-scale SAPARD fraud in the amount of over EUR 7 M has been postponed to June due to the absence of two expert witnesses.

The SAPARD case, which was to be tried Monday in the Sofia Appellate Court with a new team of magistrates, was rescheduled for June 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm while June 27 and July 18 were designated as reserve dates. The move came after it emerged that two experts who had to provide their assigned investigations were absent.

One of the experts is reported being abroad and the other had been prevented from coming to the courtroom because of urgent business.

Nikolov and Stoykov also did not attend the trial on Monday and were represented by their lawyers.

The court accepted claims and evidence presented by Stoykov's lawyer, Ina Lulcheva, but ruled that claims of Nikolov's lawyer, Menkov Menkov, for the summoning and questioning of some witnesses were unfounded.

Judge, Krasimira Medarova, was officially taken off the magistrates' panel over the request of the defense counsel.

The new panel is yet to gather new evidence and appoint new experts.

On March 19 2012, the embezzlement trial was set to be re-launched at the Sofia Appellate Court after reporting judge Krasimira Medarova decided to self-recuse.

Medarova's withdrawal was requested by the defense counsel over rumors of a political commitment on her part concerning upholding the guilty verdicts issued by the lower instance.

This is the third recusal of judges in the case after Biser Troyanov and Petya Shishkova.

In the summer of 2010, Rumyana Chengelova, judge at the Sofia City Court (SCC) acquitted Stoykov and declared the other eight defendants guilty.

Marko Nikolov was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of BGN 30 000 for document fraud and abuse of SAPARD funds.

Mario's wife Mariyana received an 8-year prison sentence and the other 4 defendants were handed 6 year jail sentences and fines of BGN 30 000.

The case is considered a crucial test for Bulgaria's justice system, monitored by the EU and OLAF – the European Commission's anti-fraud office.

According to the indictment, the defendants created a secret association through which they sent millions from SAPARD to other companies controlled by Nikolov and Stoykov.

Nikolov and Stoykov were both sponsors of now-former President Georgi Parvanov's elections campaign.


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Tags: defense counsel, Krasimira Medarova, SAPARD, fraud, Sofia Appellate Court, Sofia City Court, OLAF, Mario Nikolov, Lyudmil Stoykov, embezzlement


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