Sofia City Court ruled on December 15 to acquit former cabinet minister Emilia Maslarova on charges of embezzlement, while five co-defendants were found not guilty on related charges.
The verdict comes more than five years after the lawsuit was filed in court in November 2010, with the first hearing held in early 2011, specialist judiciary news website Legalworld.bg reported.
Maslarova, the former labour and social policy minister in the socialist-led coalition government of prime minister Sergei Stanishev, which lost the parliamentary elections in July 2009, was several of senior government officials investigated after Boiko Borissov’s GERB swept into government promising, among other things, to root out corruption and increase transparency.
Prosecutors alleged that Maslarova and her co-defendants embezzled 11 million leva, or about 5.6 million euro, from the renovation of a building in the town of Stara Zagora, with the contract going to a company owned by a family friend. The prosecutors asked for a prison term of at least 15 years and sought to impound Maslarova’s assets.
After the verdict was announced, case prosecutor Kalin Sofianski said that the court did not dispute the facts in the indictment, but found no crime was committed. “I am certain that the verdict will be overturned [on appeal] because it is not possible, when repairs cost eight million leva and the government allocates 19 million leva, with experts estimating costs at nine million leva, that there was no crime committed,” he said, as quoted by Legalworld.bg.
(Palace of Justice in Sofia. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)