Sofia City Court found Filip Zlatanov, the former chairperson of the government’s commission on preventing conflict of interest, guilty on charges of abuse of power and sentenced him to three and a half years in jail on April 3.
Zlatanov agreed to forego court hearings of witnesses, meaning the court concluded its hearings after only two sittings and less than two months after Zlatanov was indicted on February 4. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Although prosecutors asked for a three-year suspended sentence with a five-year probation period, the court ruled to hand Zlatanov an effective sentence for failing to exercise his duties and overstepping his powers with a view of benefitting or causing damage to third parties.
Zlatanov had been under investigation since July last year, when prosecutors searched two properties owned by Zlatanov and the commission’s offices. Evidence seized during those raids included a personal notebook, in which Zlatanov put down “directives” concerning which commission investigations he should delay and those that should be pursued more actively.
The biggest name on that list is that of President Rossen Plevneliev. In a statement, the presidency’s press office said at the time that, in September 2012, the commission asked Plevneliev to provide proof that he had quit executive positions in the private sector prior to his appointment as Regional Development Minister in 2009. The presidency said that Plevneliev submitted the evidence requested, even though such information was publicly available in the Commercial Register.
Other people on the list included former ministers, former MPs, constitutional judge nominees and senior magistrates.
Politicians from Bulgaria’s ruling axis have accused Zlatanov of carrying out the orders of the previous administration (that of centre-right party GERB, now in opposition). Zlatanov denied that he had “carried out outside directives” and told Bulgarian National Television that he had no recollection of the notes he took in the notebook found by prosecutors.
(Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television)