Plovdiv Court to Sit on Strelcha Mayor Case after 15 Judges Withdraw
The district court in Bulgaria's second-biggest city Plovdiv is to launch the case against Ivan Evstatiev, the mayor of the town of Strelcha who is facing rape charges.
The case was assigned to Plovdiv by Bulgaria's last-instance judicial institution, the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS), after 15 judges in a row withdrew from the Pazardzhik District Court.
Ivan Evstatiev is in custody after the Pazardzhik court said there was evidence he could hie or commit another crime. His lawyers, however, say there are many "alarming" details in the case giving judges enough ground to free him from detention.
Evstatiev, charged with the rape of a minor, could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Private bTV station reports the 16-year-old girl, the daughter of a former employee of Evstatiev, was also part of his campaigning team in the run-up to the local elections last year (which he lost).
Evstatiev was mayor of Strelcha from the early 2000s to 2015, and failed to gain another term in the last local elections.
Earlier he served as Mayor of Pazardzhik, the central town of the region where Strelcha is located.
Over the course of his career he was also a prosecutor with Pazardzhik's regional prosecutor's office and also a lawyer in the town. The magistrates who withdrew from his case say they had had numerous contacts with him at the time related to his work and wished to dispel any doubt of objectivity.
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