The Plovdiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office has laid criminal charges against the municipality’s chief architect Roumen Roussev and the representative of the company that owns a historic “Tobacco Town” building in connection with a March 2016 attempt to demolish the building.
This was announced by prosecutors on July 22, after on March 10 pre-trial proceedings were opened, following an attempt three days earlier to raze the building, a monument of culture.
Prosecutors said that they had found evidence that in the period between October 2010 and February 2016, there had been a number of flagrant violations of Bulgaria’s Cultural Heritage Act.
Charges had been laid against chief architect (the equivalent of a town planner) Roussev and against Georgi Branekov, representative of the company that owns the building in Plovdiv’s 8 Odrin Street.
Prosecutors alleged that Roussev had committed close to 60 violations of Bulgaria’s laws on design, construction and development plans, on the issuance of a building permit and on protected areas for the conservation of cultural heritage.
The Ministry of Culture had declared the warehouse at 8 Odrin Street as a monument of culture in March 2000.
It is alleged that Roussev unlawfully had, among other things, issued two permits for the construction of a multi-functional building with offices, an hotel and business apartments, a food shop and underground parking. This had been in the absence of requirement documents, such as an investment and conceptual design approved and evaluated properly, with a lack of co-ordination with the Culture Ministry, among other things.
Branekov faces charges in connection with allegedly using forged documents, saying that the building was not part of the architectural protection area.
Both accused were given bail of 2000 leva (about 1000 euro) each.
If found guilty on the charges related to illegal activities in protected areas, Roussev and Branekov face imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of 5000 to 15 000 leva. Branekov, if found guilty on the forgery charges, could be jailed for up to eight years.
Prosecutors said that they were still investigating online correspondence concerning corrupt practices related to the issuance of building permits.
Citing various laws, the Plovdiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office said that it had applied for the building permit, on the basis of which the demolition of the building was attempted, to be declared invalid.
Plovdiv news website podtepeto.com reported that Roussev, asked to comment on the prosecutors’ allegations, said that there was a very large volume of texts from the preliminary investigation and he had not studied them all, and so could not comment.
Previously, the company owning the building has denied all wrongdoing.