Bulgaria's Tsvetanov Might Be Jailed in Days over Snooping

Crime | June 3, 2013, Monday // 09:30|  views

The Deputy Chairman the GERB party, GERB MP, and former Bulgarian Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, photo by BGNES

The investigation in the unauthorized mass wiretapping in Bulgaria could lead to the arrest of the Deputy Chairman the GERB party, GERB MP, and former Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

The Bulgarian Pressa (Press) daily writes Monday that Tsvetanov could end up being held behind bars or under house arrest in just days, in case the investigation proves he has been issuing verbal orders to policemen to spy on a number of people in breaching the law, as three of these policemen have testified.

Last Thursday, Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov formally requested that Tsvetanov be stripped of his immunity as lawmaker.

Tsatsarov did not ask for an arrest, but stressed the detention measure will be decided on by the leading prosecutor in the case. If the prosecution gathers enough evidence to ground the arrest, it must be given the green light by the Parliament.

The probe is at stalemate as Tsvetanov is yet to give up his immunity as Member of the Parliament, despite him reiterating on several occasions he was ready to do so.

On Friday, the leader of the formerly-ruling center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, and former Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, said Tsvetanov will be voluntarily stripped of immunity after June 4 as until then he will be on a planned and scheduled earlier trip to Brussels.

Tsvetanov faces charges of failing to exercise proper control over the use of special surveillance devices during his term in office.

The former Interior Minister may be jailed for up to 8 years if proven guilty.

The final charges against him depend on expert reports in the examination of seized wiretapping equipment and of the minivans used for the spying, along with the level of success in the attempt to restore deleted illegal recordings.

The Bulgarian Pressa (Press) daily further writes that if the former Minister continues to weasel about the immunity, he could be banned from leaving the country.

The Bulgarian Watergate scandal unfurled at the end of March when Sergey Stanishev, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), submitted a tipoff to Tsatsarov about alleged illegal wiretapping of politicians, businesspeople and magistrates which had taken place during the rule of Borisov's GERB party (2009-2013).

Borisov was also questioned by the prosecution.

Three out of the four senior policemen, who were charged in the scandal with unauthorized spying, told the investigators they acted on Tsvetanov's verbal orders.

The admission made the latter the main instigator of the illegal wiretapping.

The cases against three former directors of the Specialized Directorate Technical Operations of the Interior Ministry (SDOTO), Sergey Katsarov, Kamen Kostov and Tsvetan Ivanov, and one Kostov's subordinate - Radko Dimitrov - are now frozen temporarily until the issue with the former Interior Minister's immunity is resolved.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports emerged that the former Interior Minister has hired a high-profile German lawyer to defend him.

Tsvetanov has refused to reveal the lawyer's name to the local Standard daily. The paper has described the former Interior Minister's attorney as a "prominent German security expert."

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Tags: wiretapping, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Boyko Borisov, special surveillance devices, GERB, Sergey Stanishev, Sotir Tsatsarov, Chief Prosecutor, special surveillance devices, Boyko Borisov, SDOTO


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