The Plovdiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office has opened pre-trial proceedings regarding the illegal demolition of a historic warehouse in the city’s “Tobacco Town” precinct.
The prosecutor’s office announced the pre-trial proceedings four days after, at its own initiative, opening an investigation into the demolition attempt. The investigation was announced the day after the demolition, which caused widespread outrage in the city and extensive media coverage, was begun.
On the orders of the Ministry of Culture, which earlier this week confirmed that the building at 8 Odrin Street had had protected status since 1977, demolition has been stopped. Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov has vowed to pursue all those involved in the demolition and has said that he intends ordering that the damaged parts of the building be rebuilt.
The prosecutor’s office said that it had initiated pre-trial proceedings “against an unknown perpetrator” in regard to the fact that, in the period of March 5 and 6 2016, illegal activities had been ordered or carried out in an area protected for the preservation of cultural heritage.
Citing a letter dated November 25 1975 from the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage declaring the warehouse a cultural monument, the prosecutor’s office said that the demolition was a crime under the Penal Code.
The investigation was being carried out by the economic crimes squad in Plovdiv and it was possible that other criminal charges would be laid.
The statement said that the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Plovdiv had received a communication from EVN Bulgaria’s Plovdiv centre saying that the demolition had not been co-ordinated with the company, and currently there was a power substation under the rubble.
This substation supplied a large area, and in order to avoid power supply problems, the owner of the warehouse had been ordered to clear up the place where the substation was, in co-ordination with the Plovdiv municipality, regional directorate of the Interior Ministry, and EVN, and to do while complying with all the laws on the preservation of the building and subject to health and safety rules.
Meanwhile, the issue continued to seethe in local politics. Plovdiv chief architect Roumen Russev has been the subject of criticism over the demolition authorisation, as has mayor Ivan Totev.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party issued its own statement condemning what had happened to the warehouse, prompting acidic comments in local media saying that the first authorisation towards demolition had been made in 2010, when Slavcho Atanassov was mayor and the BSP was part of the coalition governing Plovdiv.