The Sofia City Prosecutors office lodged charges in court against Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev on January 16, accusing him of failing in his duties to ensure aviation safety and airworthiness of military fighter aircraft.
Nenchev, a Reformist Bloc member of Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet that is in its final days, already faces criminal charges in connection with a deal to overhaul the Bulgarian Air Force’s MiG-29 engines.
A statement by the Prosecutor’s Office said that the charges, lodged in Sofia City Court, were that between May 5 2015 and September 9 2015, Nenchev had not fulfilled his duties under the Defence and Armed Forces Act to ensure aviation safety and the airworthiness of fighter aircraft.
The prosecutors alleged that Nenchev had instructed his deputy, Dessislava Yosifova, to take no action on contracts signed between the Defence Ministry and RSK MiG on extending the life of MiG-29 engines. Nenchev ordered Yosifova to keep the contracts in an official safe and take no steps for them to be carried out, according to the prosecutors.
The statement also alleged that between July 2014 and March 2016, Nenchev had failed to fulfil his duty regarding approval of the project on the cost of investment for repairing the engines and spare parts for the MiG-29s.
Nenchev’s offences had caused “substantial consequences” for the Bulgarian military, the statement said, with pilots’ annual flying hours falling well below Nato standards, and raising the risk of serious aircraft accidents.
The reduction in preparednesss of pilots had made it impossible to maintain the required number of trained Bulgarian Air Force pilots, prosecutors said.
Sofia City Court is to decide on scheduling a date for a hearing in the trial of Nenchev.