Bulgaria's Top Cop Asks EC to Probe Bribery Acquittal

Crime | October 31, 2012, Wednesday // 10:34|  views

Former Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev and the two other defendants in the bribery case, Tencho Popov and Petar Santirov, were acquitted Monday by the Sofia City Court. Photo by BGNES

Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov has argued that the bribery case against former Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev, former Chief Secretary of the Finance Ministry Tencho Popov, and Judge Petar Santirov must be inspected by the European Commission.

In a Wednesday interview for the morning broadcast of Nova TV he said that the case had to be a central point in Bulgaria's communication and partnership with the EC.

Tsvetanov insisted that the bribery case had to be inspected from the point of submission of the tip-off about the corruption scheme to the point of arrest and the investigation.

Bulgaria's Interior Minister refuted allegations of the defendants that the process had been an act of political repression.

"Do you believe that the prosecutor's office would fall into dependency with the executive branch and suffer under this burden if there was not enough evidence to submit this indictment," Tsvetanov asked in response to accusations of political repression against Nikolay Tsonev.

Tsvetanov further rejected claims that the Interior Ministry abused its right to deploy special surveillance devices.

He said that there had been much speculation concerning mass-scale wiretapping, adding that in 2012 a total of 7800 had been wiretapped, or 0.1% of the population.

Tsvetanov also cited examples of people arrested after the use of special surveillance devices, insisting that it was proof of the efficiency of the method.

On Monday, the Sofia City Court cleared Tsonev, Popov, and Santirov, of bribery charges.

Prior to the acquittal, the Sofia Prosecutor's Office demanded a 7-year prison sentence for Tsonev, 6 years behind bars for Popov and 5 years for Santirov.

Tsonev, Santirov and Popov were charged with attempting to bribe investigator Petyo Petrov with EUR 20 000 to get a positive outcome of another investigation against Tsonev.

Tsonev, member of the former three-way coalition cabinet (2009-2009), was arrested in April 2010.

He has been cleared of malfeasance charges for alleged crimes committed in 1999.

The former Defense Minister was also acquitted on a count of criminal breach of trust committed in 1999 in his capacity as an employee of the Defense Ministry.

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Tags: Sofia City Court, Tencho Popov, Petar Santirov, Nikolay Tsonev, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, wiretapping, special surveillance devices, bribery, European Commission


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