Prosecutor Asks 5 Years Jail for Ex Bulgarian Defense Minister
The prosecutor in the case of former Bulgarian Defense Minister, Nikolay Tsonev, asked Tuesday for a jail sentence of five years on charges Tsonev has deprived the State by concluding unfavorable deals.
The former Minister is accused of conducting the 4 deals for the supply of military aircraft equipment in 1999, during his term as Head of the Defense Ministry's Social Agency.
The case is tried by the Sofia Military Court since the charges involve abuse of power and failing to fulfill job duties under the Public Procurement Act.
Prosecutor, Krasimir Dermendzhiyski, is further asking for Tsonev to be banned from holding State and public positions in the next three years.
The damages from the deals amount to BGN 970 000, according to the charges – if proven guilty the ex Minister faces between 3 and 10 years behind bars.
This was the second exonerating verdict for the Defense Minister from the Three-way Coalition cabinet – the first one was on charges that while holding a ministerial post he had allowed the then Military Headquarters Head, Gen. Zlatan Stoykov, to purchase a metal construction assembly line without securing financing thus inflicting losses for the State in the amount of BGN 8 M .
Tsonev is further a defendant in an other case where he is charged with offering a bribe.
Tsonev, who was part of the previous, Socialist-led coalition cabinet from the quota of former Tsar Simeon Saxe-Coburg's party National Movement for Stability and Prosperity (NMSP), was arrested on April 1, 2010, in a much advertised police operation that generated strong public controversy.
Sofia City Court judge, Petar Santirov, and financial consultant, Tencho Popov, were also arrested during the same operation.
Tsonev, Santirov and Popov were charged with bribing investigator, Petyo Petrov, to forge evidence that would lead to a positive outcome for Tsonev of an investigation against him. The amount of the bribe was reported to have been EUR 60 000.
On June 8, the Sofia's Appellate Court released Tsonev and Santirov on bail while their fellow defendant, Tencho Popov, was released in May.
Investigator Petyo Petrov was working on the case of a BGN 120 M contract that Tsonev signed with a private company while he was Minister in 2008-2009. The investigation of the deal was started at the end of 2009 and has not been taken to court yet.
The arrest of Nikolay Tsonev on April 1, which was filmed and broadcast by the Interior Ministry, spurred a public outrage of police brutality as masked police officers made him kneel to the ground while Deputy Sofia Prosecutor Roman Vasilev called him "a criminal". The Ethics Commission at Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) later sanctioned Vasilev, for his inappropriate behavior during the arrest.
The former Defense Minister is suing the Bulgarian state in Strasbourg, complaining of "humiliating treatment" by the police.
On November 24, special surveillance tapes were shown for the first time in an "open doors" court trial in Bulgaria.
During the session, the magistrates were able to examine only one of a total of four recordings – the first conversation between Santirov and Popov.
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