Bulgaria's Justice Minister Boasts Salvaged EU Funds, New Penal Code
Bulgaria's government succeeded in reducing projected EU funds losses 8 times since May, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Zinaida Zlatanova.
In a Sunday interview for the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), she said that EU funding amounting to EUR 237 M had been successfully absorbed, while the country had failed to absorb a total of EUR 35 M.
She explained that a sum of EUR 27 M under the "Environment" operational program had been frozen, stressing that the authorities were doing their best to unblock payments.
Zlatanova announced that the potential losses had been specified in a report of the caretaker government in May, which had also listed measures aimed at salvaging the EU funding.
She expressed satisfaction that the draft Penal Code had been finalized, adding that the existing penal Code had been promulgated in 1968, under a set of entirely different social and political relations, and had been amended 90 times to be adjusted to the new circumstances.
"I am happy that I am the Justice Minister to have wrapped up work on the draft Penal Code," Zlatanova said, reminding that four ministers from three governments had worked on the piece of legislation.
Zlatanova, as cited by the BGNES news agency, also drew attention to the fact that work on the new Penal Code had started 3.5 years ago by then-Justice Minister and current Vice President Margarita Popova.
She noted that scores of experts had worked on the project, adding that it upgraded Bulgarian criminal law and brought it in line with up-to-date European and global standards.
Commenting on the draft penal Code, which was presented on Saturday, she pointed out that it was more practical, adding that citizens would be allowed to detain perpetrators at the crime scene until police arrived.
She said that the new Penal Code increased the maximum amount of fines to BGN 100 000 from the previous ceiling of BGN 30 000.
Bulgaria's Justice Minister made clear that petty thefts would no longer be punishable by jail time but by fine.
She underscored that there were a new set of legal provisions on terrorism, funding of terrorism, financial crime and computer crime.
Asked why the life sentence without parole had been being abolished, she said that contemporary criminal law assumed that such a penalty could not promote the rehabilitation of offenders because it implied hopelessness.
Citing a basic principle of criminal law, she noted that it was not so important to impose severe penalties but to make sure that they were seen as unavoidable.
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