Bulgaria Opposition MP Gives Up Immunity from Prosecution

Crime | March 9, 2016, Wednesday // 11:07
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Opposition MP Gives Up Immunity from Prosecution Iliya Iliev. File photo, BGNES

Iliya Iliev, a lawmaker with liberal DPS party and a former municipal councilor from now the main ruling GERB party, has agreed to have his immunity lifted in order to face criminal prosecution.

Iliev is also considering whether to quit Parliament.

His move follows a request from Bulgaria's Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov that his immunity be revoked in relation to an ongoing probe.

The prosecution alleges Iliev drained BGN 3 M (EUR 1.532 M) out of the National Railway Infrastructure Company through public procurement launched by the state-owned company between 2007 and 2009. He supposedly helped the director of a regional unit of the company embezzle millions in funding.

He supposedly helped the director of a regional unit of the company embezzle milluions in funding.

Mediapool.bg quotes the lawmaker as telling journalists he is not concerned, but considers the development to be a problem on a personal note, more specifically for his family.

"You wouldn't expect that before [being a lawmaker] I earned a living for my family by being a shepherd, would you? I used to be in the business [field], I used to work [there], but I was no criminal. If I were, I wouldn't be here."

"Everyone has to work something and feed their family after all," he has explained.

Iliev has made clear he is ready to bear the consequences if found guilty.

"If I am guilty I will bear my punishment. If it is necessary, I will stay [behind bars]. There is nothing wrong in this. I will read a book or two. I love reading."

Back in November 2014, Tsatsarov submitted an immunity request which included Iliev alongside other lawmakers. Iliev in particular was sought over pre-trial proceedings for tax crimes. The request, however, was not fulfilled at the moment.

Iliev is not a member of DPS formally, but chairs a party called DROM (loosely translated as a "movement for an equality-based public model") which pledges to protect the rights of minority groups in Bulgaria, and the Roma people in particular.

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Tags: Iliya Iliev, Sotir Tsatsarov, DPS, embezzlement, National Railway Infrastructure Company
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