Sofia Court Acquits Sole Defendant in 2013 Illegal Ballot Papers Case
The Sofia City Court has acquitted Rosen Zhelyazkov, the sole defendant in the case for the illegal ballot papers discovered on the eve of the early elections on May 12, 2013.
Zhelyazkov, former Chief Secretary of the Council of Ministers, stood trial for failing to exercise adequate control over ballot papers.
A judge panel of the Sofia City Court chaired by Ana Zaharieva found Zhelyazkov not guilty on Wednesday.
Zhelyazkov faced charges of failing to fulfill his professional duties of Chief Secretary of the Council of Ministers related to the organization and control of the activity of the government’s administration with a view to securing a profit for the Multiprint printing house.
Earlier on Wednesday, the prosecuting authority had demanded a 2-year suspended sentence with 4 years of probation for Zhelyazkov.
The Sofia City Court revoked the claims of the prosecuting authority that Zhelyazkov had failed to secure strict oversight of the production process of the ballot papers, thereby eroding the trust of Bulgarian citizens in the election process, according to reports of the BGNES news agency.
The court expenses are to be covered by the state and the prosecuting authority is to decide in 15 days whether it will appeal the decision at a court of higher instance.
Zhelyazkov was the sole defendant in the illegal ballots case.
The scandal flared up on May 11, 2013, one day before the parliamentary elections, when a special operation of the prosecuting authority and the State Agency for National Security (DANS) uncovered a large amount of extra ballot papers at the Multiprint printing house in Kostinbrod.
The printing facility was found to be owned by Yordan Bonchev, Municipal Councilor from center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria).
Tests by expert witnesses showed that 351 075 out of the total of 480 000 extra ballot papers discovered at the printing facility had been fit to use.
On December 16, 2013, the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office submitted an indictment against Zhelyazkov for an offence concerning his professional conduct over the failure to exercise adequate control over the ballot papers.
The offence is punishable by 1-8 years of imprisonment.
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