CRIM MEP: Budget Shortage Hurdled Bulgarian PM Hearing
The site for investigative journalism Bivol.bg, official partner of WikiLeaks for Bulgaria, has received CRIM's Record of Decisions, listing the official denial to hold a public hearing on the alleged criminal past of Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov.
At the end of June, Bulgarian journalists requested a check by the European Parliament's Special Committee on Organized Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering (CRIM) on alleged ties of Borisov to the criminal world, published by Wikileaks.
The request signed by Atanas Tchobanov, Assen Yordanov, and Petar Penchev is addressed in article 5 of the Record of Decisions and reads the following:
5. Petition(s)/report(s) from Bulgarian petitioners concerning alleged connections of the Bulgarian Prime Minister with organized crime and participation in money laundering schemes
CRIM Coordinators consider that the type of issues raised in the petitions/reports in question as well as the type of initiatives requested from it fall outside the mandate of this Special Committee. Consequently, the CRIM Committee, having taken note of these petitions/reports, does not intend to take any specific action in this respect and will duly inform the petitioners of this decision.
The above, as Bivol writes Monday, could be interpreted as a formal rejection of the request and strikes it for good from CRIM's agenda.
However, at the end of September, the Chair of CRIM, Sonia Alfano, from ALDE, and Rita Borsellino, from S&D, sent an official letter to the journalists, stressing they supported holding a hearing on corruption in EU Member States, including Bulgaria and Italy, but their proposal has been, unfortunately, rejected.
Alfano and Borsellino vowed to raise the issue before CRIM once again by using all means provided by EP.
Bivol cited then an email from their sources, listing the vote as follows: ALDE: Chair Sonia Alfano, Italy, PRESENT YES, ALDE: Bill Newton Dunn, UK, PRESENT, vote NO, S&D: Rita BORSELLINO, Italy PRESENT, vote YES, Nordic Green Left: Soren Bo Sondergaard Denmark, PRESENT, vote YES, EPP: Veronique Mathieu, France, PRESENT, vote NO, ECR: James Nicholson, UK, PRESENT, vote NO, EFD: Mario Borghezio Italy, PRESENT, vote NO, Greens: Bart Staes, Belgium, ABSENT.
MEP Bill Newton Dunn has offered to provide his own motives from voting NO on the request and on Friday, October 5, Bivol have received the following email, signed by Dunn:
"There was NO vote by the CRIM coordinators. We each gave an indication and it was overwhelming that the big majority felt that
a. the committee had no spare dates available, given that we have to look at the whole of Europe (not just at one member state) and we have to report by next summer, and being the newest committee and only a temporary one we are last in the line for reserving meeting rooms and interpreters.
b. CRIM is not a committee of inquiry - but the EP could decide to set one up separately, but it would not be us
c. we doubted very very much that any Bulgarian would bother to travel to us in Brussels, given that we have no money to pay their costs, no powers to compel them to come and no powers of punishment if they do not come or do not answer questions."
Despite Dunn's claims about CRIM's limited budget, the same Record of Decisions, with the denial to hold a hearing on Borisov, lists as article 1 the approval of trips of 8 CRIM members to Washington DC and Guatemala, Bivol point out.
After receiving the news in September, the same journalists sent a letter to Alfano with copies to the Presidents of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and of EP, Martin Schultz, to express their surprise and disappointment from CRIM leaving their request without consequences.
In it, they request from CRIM to provide a hard copy of their first request to all MEPs from CRIM by October 8 2012; to include in the agenda of the open-doors meeting of CRIM on October 15 a debate and an open vote on their hearing request.
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