Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office: Pre-trial proceedings opened regarding fence at Turkish border

Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office: Pre-trial proceedings opened regarding fence at Turkish border

The Bulgarian Prosecutor-General's office said on February 21st, that pre-trial proceedings had been opened in connection with an offence related to the building of the fence at the border with Turkey, but is declining to give opposition MPs a State Agency for National Security report on the matter, saying that it forms part of evidence.

A day earlier, opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova demanded that Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov disclose the "truth" about the investigation into the fence project.

Ninova said that the Prosecutor's Office had had the report from the State Agency for National Security for a week, and her party wanted to know what it said, because it was the BSP that had reported the matter.

Tsatsarov had told the Parliament's committee on legal affairs on December 6 2017 that SANS had found that the sum for the project was higher than the market value.

The Prosecutor's Office said that a report had been received on March 10 2017 from (then-MP) Velizar Enchev on allegations regarding possible crimes in connection with the building of the fence.

Enchev alleged that the project was being improperly carried out by companies linked to the nationalist Patriotic Front - Enchev's political rivals, and a group of which he used to be part.

The Supreme Cassation Prosecutor's Office had requested for the relevant documentation from the District Governors of Haskovo, Yambol and Bourgas districts, because they organised all actions related to the design, construction and maintenance of the fence.

The statement noted that the terms and conditions for the project had been set in a Cabinet decree in March 2015 and other, subsequent, government orders.

In March 2017, the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor's Office had requested an official financial inspection regarding the assignment, design, construction and warranty maintenance of the fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border.

In April, the Supreme Administrative Court had commissioned a check into alleged corruption by government officials.

It was in May 2017 that the Prosecutor-General's office received a report from the BSP about alleged irregularities in the building of the fence. This was attached to the existing ongoing investigation, the Prosecutor's Office said.

The statement detailed further steps, including a further check by the Special Prosecutor's Office from August to December. On December 19, the Special Prosecutor's Office had initiated pre-trial proceedings.

The statement said that a request had been received from BSP MPs on February 9 for information about the case, specifically including the SANS report. This request had been forwarded to the Special Prosecutor's Office, which had replied to the MPs on February 21 that the SANS report was part of the evidence and could not provided.

"It has also been argued that disclosure of material from criminal proceedings to date would seriously hamper the investigation and disclosure of the objective truth," the Prosecutor's Office said.

The Turkish border fence, the subject of spending of millions of leva, has been the subject of controversy through a succession of Bulgarian governments since 2013.

Reports on February 21 said that MPs from the current ruling majority intended tabling legislation that would open the way for awarding business related to the fence without having to meet the statutory requirements of public procurement legislation.../IBNA

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