EC Experts to Scrutinize Bulgaria's Flopped SAPARD Trial
Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Galina Toneva, is one of the three candidtates to become the next top Prosecutor of Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES
The SAPARD money laundering case against murky businessman Mario Nikolov will be one of the main issues to be examined by European Commission experts, who are arrining in Bulgaria on Monday, November 26.
Speaking Friday for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Galina Toneva, who one day earlier was nominated for Chief Prosecutor, said she was checking in person the latest developments in the case.
The statement came two days after prosecutors stepped back from their protest of the acquittal of businessman Mario Nikolov and the other defendants in the country's highly publicized SAPARD money laundering case.
They were charged with participating in an organized crime group engaged in laundering EUR 7.5 M drained from the EU agriculture program SAPARD.
The move fully cleared the defendants of all charges, bringing to an end a strongly politicized trial, which was closely monitored by the European Commission.
It emerged later that Stoycho Nenkov, Prosecutor from the Sofia Appellate Prosecutor's Office, has decided on his own to not file an appeal and will be probed. The Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, the Inspectorate of the Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassations, and the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office have been notified.
The probe will be for obstructing justice.
Nenkov, on his part, was firm he made the decision based on his own conviction, without any outside pressure.
On Friday, Toneva stressed that every prosecutor has the right to act on personal conviction, but at the same time he or she must adhere to procedural rules as they are related to the authority of the other prosecutors.
According to her, if the person, who under the law must protest a rule, is convinced he or she should not do it, this prosecutor is mandated to inform supervisors and they can write the protest if they deem necessary.
Toneva firmly rejected Nenkov's claim that he had notified her about his intention to withdraw his protest (appeal). She insists he had committed a disciplinary violation.
Regarding her bid for Chief Prosecutor, Toneva stated that having three candidates for the post means more and better ideas with the frontrunner having more support.
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