Notorious Bulgarian Ex Chief Prosecutor Mocks 'Octopus' Case
Bulgaria's former Chief Prosecutor, Nikola Filchev, firmly denied in Court Thursday that he had maintained close ties with defendant Alexey Petrov AKA The Octopus and The Tractor.
Filchev took the witness stand in the high-profile organized crime case against Petrov.
The indictment against the former employee of the State Agency for National Security, DANS, murky businessman and alleged crime boss Alexey Petrov was filed by the prosecution following an investigation of close to two years. Petrov, together with five other people are facing charges of racketeering and extortion. He was arrested on February 10 2010, in a special operation codenamed "Octopus."
The first question asked by the Prosecutor to Filchev was if he had worked as Chief Prosecutor to which he replied: "I don't remember. Do you?"
Filchev described for the magistrates another defendant in the case – Tseko Yordanov, also a former prosecutor, as a "man of principles."
He proceeded to say he met Petrov for the first time in 1999, through the former Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Bozhidar Popov. They had several talks in a Sofia restaurant over a real estate purchase the defendant was making for his mother. He also stated that he knew the former Chief of the National Security Services, NSS (now DANS), General Atanas Atanasov only by name.
After a 3-hour-long testimony, it remained unclear if Filchev had pressured for Petrov's hiring at NSS. On Wednesday, Atanasov told the magistrates that in 2001, the then Chief Prosecutor had called him with a request to hire "The Tractor" as undercover agent in NSS. Prosecutor Svetlozar Kostov asked for a direct confrontation between the two over the denial. His request was accepted by the court and the judge called on both witnesses to stand and face each other.
Atanasov reiterated his claim, to which the ex Prosecutor replied that this was a "100% lie" and that he does not know Atanasov.
During his Wednesday testimony, Atanasov also said that there was a strong connection between now-former President, Georgi Parvanov, who left office four days ago, and Petrov, while Filchev was the intermediary between the two.
"I was harassed for 7 years by Filchev and several other prosecutors and was attacked including by 3 investigations against me -one was dismissed; the other two ended with not guilty verdicts. I had access to information as NSS Chief and found evidence that this attack was politically motivated and came from Parvanov," Atanasov told the magistrates.
Seven other witnesses are scheduled to take the witness stand Thursday.
In addition to Atanasov, on Wednesday the magistrates heart testimony from DANS Deputy Chair, Ivan Drashkov, former Interior Minister, Emanuil Yordanov, former DANS Director, Petko Sertov, and the Head of DANS Human Resources Department, Avram Ivanov.
Also on Wednesday, Edvin Sugarev, a former Member of the Parliament from the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces, UDF, writer, journalist, and public figure, sent an open letter to current Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, alerting him that Filchev must be investigated for the murders of Yambol lawyer, Nadezhda Georgieva and of Prosecutor, Nikolay Kolev.
Before the start of the Thursday trial session, Sugarev, who is also a witness in the case, told journalists that there were solid grounds to arrest Filchev, adding a while ago he had spoken to Boris Velchev, who agreed that his predecessor must be detained, but later gave up on the idea.
More on the murders of Nadezhda Georgieva and Nikolay Kolev read HERE.
Petrov continues to insist that the case against him is political retribution. He vowed to sue for libel all who testify against him, and stressed that this case will end up being a serious blow to national security and a humiliation for Bulgaria.
In other developments, Ex-England Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith officially joined Thursday Petrov's defense team, hinting for journalists that he believes his client is innocent.
Petrov, together with five other people are facing charges of racketeering and extortion.
The Interior Ministry said at the time of his arrest that it had bust a very powerful, exceptionally well-organized and hierarchically structured crime ring that had been functioning since 1997.
The detainees were initially charged with organizing prostitution, drug trafficking, money laundering, racketeering, tax fraud and embezzlement.
In the summer of 2010, the prosecutor declared that it was impossible to solve the case with one trial and opened two trials against a total of 25 defendants, deploying a team of three prosecutors.
Petrov was released on house arrest in October 2010 after spending 8 months under arrest, which in February 2011 was changed to own recognizance. He ran for President in the end-October elections.
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