Arriving at the Sofia City Investigative Service offices on March 12 where he was to be formally charged with hooliganism and assaulting a police officer during the Varna Airport incident, Bulgaria’s far-right ultra-nationalist Ataka party leader Volen Siderov described the charges against him as “bizarre”.
Complaining that he had already been found guilty by the media regarding the incident, Siderov said that he could not be found guilty of assaulting the police officer because this simply had not happened.
Accompanied by members of Ataka’s parliamentary group and a crew from Ataka mouthpiece Alpha TV, Siderov said that four witnesses in the case had not been questioned – members of Ataka who had been with him on the flight from Sofia to Varna.
He said that the summons to be charged was procedurally flawed because it had not been handed to him personally. Bulgarian law, however, makes no such provision.
The charges against Siderov arise from a January 6 2014 incident in which Siderov got into an altercation with a French diplomat abroad the flight to Bulgaria’s major Black Sea city, while there were further incidents aboard the airport runway bus and in the parking area, where two men – one of them the police officer – allegedly were assaulted.
Earlier, the incidents led to a formal complaint from the French embassy in Sofia.
Siderov relinquished his immunity as an MP from prosecution and in a demonstrative gesture, so did all the members of Ataka’s parliamentary group. However, reports said that no one from Ataka other than Siderov would face charges.