Bulgaria Attempts 'Scratch' Restart of 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
Bulgaria's Prosecutor's Office has approached the Supreme Court of Cassations, VKS, to restart the SAPARD money laundering case against murky businessman Mario Nikolov from scratch.
Speaking Monday for bTV, the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Galina Toneva, who was recently nominated for Chief Prosecutor, said her office wants from VKS to return the case to the stage of pre-trail proceedings.
Toneva explained all charges must now be united in one single case as it was done in Germany where the defendants already serve their sentences.
The division of the charges was the main motive of judge, Kalin Kalpakchiev, to issue the not-guilty verdicts.
Toneva further informed that the judge who tried the case at first instance has previously been a lawyer for one of the defendants and should have withdrawn. The third cited reason was the probe against Prosecutor, Stoycho Nenkov, for obstructing justice.
The statement came less than a week 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.
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.
Nenkov's decision triggered strong criticism on the part of interim Chief Prosecutor, Boyko Naydenov, and the wrath of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov.
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