Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has submitted a formal request to the National Assembly on June 23 to lift the immunity from prosecution of three MPs from Volya, the party led by Vesselin Mareshki, best known for his cut-price pharmacy and fuels businesses.
The MPs – Mareshki himself, as well as Krastina Taskova and Plamen Hristov – are alleged to have engaged in extortion, threatening the owners of seven pharmacies in five different cities and towns to sign over their businesses to Mareshki, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The investigation, launched by prosecutors in Varna in December 2014, alleges that the incidents spanned a period of three years, between the autumn of 2012 and the end of 2015. The investigation was transferred to prosecutors in Sofia in May 2017, who suspended the probe due to the parliamentary immunity of Mareshki, Taskova and Hristov.
This is the second time that prosecutors have asked to have Mareshki’s immunity from prosecution lifted. In April, Tsatsarov asked Parliament to rescind Mareshki’s immunity in order to proceed with two other investigations, for alleged threats against a pizzeria manager and causing bodily harm to a Varna municipal councillor.
Mareshki declined to voluntarily give up his immunity from prosecution on that occasion. In such instances, Parliament is required to set up an ad hoc committee to examine the prosecution’s evidence and then makes a recommendation to the House, which then votes on a motion whether to lift the immunity. After the committee voted to recommend that the House lift Mareshki’s immunity, he agreed to give it up voluntarily.
This time, Hristov said that he and Taskova would agree to voluntarily give up their immunity from prosecution, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio. Hristov said that he had no opportunity to speak to Mareshki on this topic.
(Volya leader Vesselin Mareshki)