Ataka’s Siderov and Chukolov formally charged with hooliganism and assault

Ataka party leader Volen Siderov and MP Dessislav Chukolov have been formally charged with hooliganism and assault in connection with an October 9 incident at an all-night liquor and cigarette shop in central Sofia.

Prosecutors lodged charges against the two on November 10 after the National Assembly agreed to remove their immunity from prosecution as MPs. Further charges are to be laid after, as is expected, Parliament agrees to the removal of the immunity of Siderov and Chukolov in connection with offences during later incidents.

Siderov and Chukolov appeared on November 10 at the Prosecutor’s Office to be presented with the charges, according to prosecutors.

Siderov was charged with, as the indictment puts it, hooliganism with exceptional cynicism and impudence and with inflicting light bodily harm to a police officer. The charges against Chukolov are hooliganism and inflicting light bodily harm to a police officer who was in the course of his duties.

If found guilty, Siderov could face up to three years in prison. Chukolov would face from one to five years.

The two Ataka MPs were released on condition that they regularly sign in at a police station.

According to reports at the time, including eyewitness statements to prosecutors, Siderov and Chukolov were involved in an altercation with the owner and staff of the shop, whom they alleged to be selling contraband. A check at the time by economic crimes squad police found no such items. Police reported that the Ataka two behaved extremely aggressively and arrogantly towards law enforcement officers.

Siderov and Chukolov deny wrongdoing.

The National Assembly is expected to endorse a recommendation by an ad hoc all-party parliamentary committee that approval be given to prosecutors to lay charges against Siderov and Chukolov in connection with an incident at the National Academy for Film and Theatre Arts. The Ataka members intruded on students in the first of a series of two incidents at the theatre academy that resulted in late-night confrontations.

The Siderov incidents have led GERB, Parliament’s largest party, to initiate talks on changing the constitution to limit the current blanket provision of immunity to MPs to only when members of the National Assembly are in the House. Parliament also has voted to cut back from 14 days to five the timeframe for MPs to voluntarily relinquish their immunity if the Prosecutor-General tables a request for its removal.



The Sofia Globe staff

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