The Sofia City Court awarded Bulgaria’s former prime minister Boiko Borissov 180 000 leva in damages in a defamation lawsuit against ultra-nationalist Ataka leader Volen Siderov, local media reported, citing court documents.
Borissov filed four separate slander claims in June 2013 after Siderov alleged, in an interview with a Bulgarian newspaper, that state aircraft had been used to unlawfully export money from Bulgaria, allegedly to Lebanon, during Borissov’s term as prime minister.
Borissov claimed 50 000 leva in damages for each instance of slander – the court awarded him the sum sought in two such cases, but lowered damages to 40 000 leva for the other two cases. Siderov was also ordered to pay more than 12 000 leva in court expenses.
Although no such statistics are kept, the payout ordered by the court is believed to be one of the highest in Bulgaria’s recent history. The court’s decision can be appealed at the Sofia Court of Appeals.
Commenting on the court’s decision, Borissov said that “it is high time we started speaking, in Bulgarian politics, about issues and the way to solve them, instead of using hate speech, lobbing accusations and slander as a way to defame an opponent.”
He said he expected more similar court decisions in his favour. Borissov has filed three slander lawsuits against Nikolai Barekov, the TV talk-show host-turned-politician, and Yordan Tsonev, a long-time MP for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
Siderov, who has several other slander lawsuits filed against him, did not comment on the sentence directly, but his party, Ataka, said that it would file a complaint with the Supreme Judicial Council against the Sofia City Court judge that issued the ruling. Ataka also accused the judge of having political motivations in ruling against Siderov.
(Boiko Borissov photo by Council of the EU)