Bulgarian prosecutors are to appeal in the Sofia Appeal Court against a city court decision to release from custody without bail three men accused of conspiring to murder controversial figure Delyan Peevski, it was announced on June 15 2014.
The request will be lodged in the appeal court within the statutory period of three days.
The three men, Georgi Hristov, Ventsislav Vurbanov and Krassimir Metodiev reportedly were taken into custody on June 12 but the Sofia City Court ordered their release on June 13, saying that there was insufficient evidence against them.
The lawyer for one of the accused, Nikolai Hadzhigenov, said that the allegations of the prosecution were motivated by political and business interests. He denied all allegations against them.
The court episode was the latest twist in a drama that began with a large-scale raid by police and prosecutors on the morning of June 13 of a building in Tsar Boris III Boulevard in Sofia.
Initial media reports said that the search-and-seizure operation was directed against Corporate Commercial Bank and TV7. These reports named CCB majority shareholder Tsvetan Vassilev as being the target of an investigation, in turn linking this to allegations submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office in February by the anti-government Protest Network.
Those allegations were contained in a file containing media reports regarding Vassilev, Peevski and Nikolai Barekov, the former talk show host and former TV7 executive around whom the Bulgaria Without Censorship party was formed some months ago.
CCB and TV7, in separate statements, denied that the investigation operations were directed against them, while a brief statement on June 13 from the Prosecutor’s office confirmed an investigation, but said that the search operation that morning had not involved banks or a media outlet.
CCB has scheduled a news conference for January 16 in response to media reports about the events.
The June 13 operation took place the morning after Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov said that Vassilev would be questioned about alleged breaches of tax law.
The police operation continued into the late afternoon, but the Sofia City Prosecution Office (SCPO) did not say what crime they were investigating, saying only that 19 premises had been searched. Investigators started carrying out evidence in black bags in the late afternoon.
CCB management board member and executive director Georgi Hristov said in an interview with bTV that there was tension between Peevski and Vassilev, alleging that the cause was Peevski’s refusal to repay for loans.
According to Hristov, companies directly or indirectly linked to Peevski were subject to court action by CCB.
Separately, Barekov confirmed to reporters that he had been subject to a tax audit but said that he had not been questioned in connection with the allegations in the dossier submitted by the Protest Network.