Sofia City Court confirms two plea bargains with Ataka’s Siderov, rejects one

In three separate rulings on March 14 2016, Sofia City Court confirmed two plea bargains with Ataka leader Volen Siderov in which he pleaded guilty to hooliganism charges, but the court rejected the third.

The court confirmed a plea bargain by which Siderov and Ataka MP Dessislav Chukolov pleaded guilty in connection with a late-night incident on election night 2015 at the National Academy of Film and Theatre Arts in Sofia.

Siderov and Chukolov entered the academy and got involved in a fracas with students, with Siderov grabbing the phone and injuring the wrist of a student who was filming their behaviour. Siderov pleaded guilty to charges of hooliganism and coercion.

In this case, Siderov was given nine months probation and Chukolov six months probation. Each was given community service, taking the form of a monthly deduction of 13 per cent of their salaries as MPs. The sentences take effect immediately, the court said.

Sofia City Court also upheld a plea bargain between Siderov and prosecutors regarding an incident in May 17 2011 in Batak, where the Ataka leader disrupted official commemorations of the Ottoman-era massacre in the town. The agreement provides for Siderov, who pleaded guilty to the charge of hooliganism, to meet a probation officer every month for eight months, and to perform community service through a 13 per cent deduction from his monthly salary as an MP, for eight months.

However, a third panel of the Sofia City Court did not uphold the agreement between prosecutors and Siderov in connection with an incident next to the National Assembly building in 2013.

Siderov had agreed to plead guilty to assaulting a police officer during a confrontation with an employee of a television station.

The plea bargain had provided for Siderov to be given probation and ordered to meet monthly with a probation officer, as well as have 13 per cent of his monthly salary deducted as a form of community service, but the court held that the punishment was too light, given that Siderov now already had been given probation on another charge.

The court said that a guilty verdict on a hooliganism charge provided for up to five years in prison and for mild assault, up to three years in prison. Morever, the act had been committed by an MP outside the Parliament building, the court said.

The court referred the case back to the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, underlining that the punishment envisaged did not correspond with the provisions of Bulgaria’s Penal Code.



The Sofia Globe staff

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