Bulgarian Prosecutors Indict Former Deputy Premier

Bulgarian prosecutors indicted former Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov over his alleged involvement in illegal wiretapping in 2010-2013.

Tsvetanov, who was also ex-Premier Boyko Borissov’s interior minister, was charged with not ensuring the legal use of “specialized equipment” and “consciously” allowing subordinates to commit crime, prosecutors in the capital, Sofia, said today in an e-mailed statement. If found guilty, he and three interior ministry officials face eight years in jail. Tsvetanov is innocent, said his lawyer, Menko Menkov.

“We weren’t given any of the pre-trial materials, including the evidence on which the indictment is based,” Menkov told reporters. “Our rights are being violated. We’ll wait for the prosecution to decide how long it will conduct pre-trial proceedings.”

The European Union has repeatedly criticized Bulgaria for insufficient efforts to fight corruption and organized crime, urging the Balkan country to investigate graft among senior government officials. Several former ministers have been charged with abuse of power and acquitted in the last four years.

Borissov’s government resigned amid protests against corruption and high utility bills and failed to win an outright majority in May 12 early elections, opening the way for the second-place party, the Socialists, to form a coalition with the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

Tsvetanov, who’s now Borissov’s deputy as leader of the Gerb parliamentary group, has been questioned by prosecutors and investigators several times in the last two months.

He gave up his parliamentary immunity on May 21 to allow an investigation into his alleged involvement in wiretapping a conversation between Borissov, former Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolai Kokinov and former Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naidenov.

Prosecutors have banned Tsvetanov from traveling, according to Menkov.

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