Notorious Bulgarian SAPPARD Trial Stalls Again

Crime | June 21, 2012, Thursday // 13:51
Notorious Bulgarian SAPPARD Trial Stalls Again: Notorious Bulgarian SAPPARD Trial Stalls Again Shady Bulgarian businessman, Mario Nikolov, is sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of BGN 30 000 for document fraud and abuse of SAPARD funds. Photo by BGNES

The trial against notorious Bulgarian businessmen Mario Nikolov for large-scale SAPARD fraud in the amount of over EUR 7 M has been postponed once again this time over an irregularly summoned defendant.

The SAPARD case, which was to be tried Thursday in the Sofia Appellate Court was rescheduled for July 11 2012, after it emerged that defendant Ramil Petrov was not summoned according to the rules.

Mario Nikolov is sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of BGN 30 000 for document fraud and abuse of SAPARD funds.

Mario's wife Mariyana received an 8-year prison sentence and the other 4 defendants were handed 6 year jail sentences and fines of BGN 30 000.

The case is considered a crucial test for Bulgaria's justice system, monitored by the EU and OLAF – the European Commission's anti-fraud office.

According to the indictment, the defendants created a secret association through which they sent millions from SAPARD to other companies controlled by Nikolov and Stoykov.

Nikolov and Stoykov were both sponsors of now-former President Georgi Parvanov's elections campaign.

On March 19 2012, the embezzlement trial was set to be re-launched at the Sofia Appellate Court after reporting judge Krasimira Medarova decided to self-recuse.

Medarova's withdrawal was requested by the defense counsel over rumors of a political commitment on her part concerning upholding the guilty verdicts issued by the lower instance.

This is the third recusal of judges in the case after Biser Troyanov and Petya Shishkova.

In the summer of 2010, Rumyana Chengelova, judge at the Sofia City Court (SCC) acquitted Stoykov and declared the other eight defendants guilty.

In mid-May, the trial was postponed to June due to the absence of two expert witnesses.

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Tags: Krasimira Medarova, SAPARD, fraud, Sofia Appellate Court, Sofia City Court, OLAF, Mario Nikolov, Lyudmil Stoykov, embezzlement

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