Bulgarian Court: Ex-PM Boyko Borissov was Arrested Illegally
The arrest of former Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov is illegal, the Sofia District Court ruled.
The General Directorate of the National Police must pay the costs of BGN 300 which Borissov incurred in the case, plus another BGN 10 for his filing.
According to Judge Nikolay Urumov, “to the time of Borissov's detention, no suitable evidence or means evidence has been gathered to indicate the applicant's possible complicity in the commission of the crime of extortion (of Vasil Bozhkov). The ECHR explicitly has stated that a reasonable suspicion of committing a crime presupposes the existence of facts or information that would convince the objective observer that the person in question may have committed a crime. However, such are missing from the cover of the case.”
It is not clear from the detention order of the General Directorate of the National Police (GDNP) what the reasons are for Borissov to be arrested.
The SDC ruling says Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was also questioned, saying he met with European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi on March 16th and was concerned that “the Bulgarian prosecutor's office did not act adequately” on the signals, and Kovesi replied that “action will be taken by the European Public Prosecutor's Office within its competence”.
Petkov also expressed concern that Borissov and the others mentioned in the SFIA (State Financial Inspection Agency) report would gain access to it and could influence the objective investigation by destroying or concealing items and documents. They can also press witnesses.
However, Judge Urumov believes that “his doubts are not supported by any facts”. He also explained that Petkov himself had not stated “in any way that he had witnessed the commission of a crime or that he knew specific facts relevant to the crime committed by the applicant Borissov”.
The decision of the SDC is not final and can be appealed within two weeks before the Administrative Court in Sofia.
“I thank the Bulgarian court. There is no one above the law!” Boyko Borissov wrote on Facebook.
Borissov, his former finance minister Vladislav Goranov and his publicist Sevdelina Arnaudova were arrested on March 17th. The Ministry of Interior even announced that the former head of the parliamentary committee on budget and finance Menda Stoyanova had been detained, which she herself denied. Less than 24 hours later, however, the three were released without charge.
There were mutual accusations of lying between Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov and the prosecutor's office. The state prosecution said there was not enough evidence to detain Borisov, Goranov and Arnaudova, and that if they did, they would break the law. According to the prosecutor's office, procedural and investigative actions were flawed because they were not committed by an investigator. In addition, the Sofia Prosecutor’s Office considers that there was no urgency in the present case to allow an investigative body to initiate pre-trial proceedings.
A midnight briefing by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Boyko Rashkov followed, at which Petkov accused the prosecutor's office of sabotage, and Rashkov explained that the Interior Ministry used the principle of urgency to make the state prosecution work.
The European Public Prosecutor's Office was also involved in the scandal. The Ministry of Interior announced that it would also take a stand on the issue, but the message was later deleted.
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