Former Bulgarian DefMin Acquitted in Bribery Case
A supreme court ruled on Tuesday that former Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev, judge Petar Santirov and former Finance Ministry official Tencho Popov are not guilty of bribery.
The decision of the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS), which puts an end to a four-year-long trial, cannot be appealed.
Tsonev was arrested in 2010 in a controversial police operation which later resulted in the resignation of Deputy Chief Prosecutor Roman Vasilev.
During Tsonev's arrest, Vasilev had called him "an absolute criminal." He had also ordered police officers detaining Tsonev to bring him to his knees.
The defendant, along with Santirov and Popov, were accused of having interfered in an investigation, allegedly requiring of Petyo Petrov, who was carrying out the probe, to bring it to a dead end.
Petrov, who was a key witness during the trial, maintained he had received EUR 20 000 to foil the investigation, which dealth with a contract of the Defense Ministry to purchase a Strandzha 2 defense system.
The ministry struck the deal at the time when Tsonev was Defense Minister (he was in office between 2008 and 2009).
In its ruling, VKS describes the developments as "an emblematic example" of a provocation played out by Petyo Petrov, according to the specialized website Praven Svyat ("Legal World") which deals with cases of particular interest and general issues related to the judiciary.
It also adds that police officers "provided assistance" to Petrov.
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