The District Prosecutor’s Office in Plovdiv has lodged charges in court against two managers of a company in connection with the March 2016 attempted demolition of a warehouse in the historic Tobacco Town precinct of Bulgaria’s second city.
A number of criminal charges have been lodged against Georgi Branekov (37) and Aleksandar Nikolic (46), a Bulgarian-Serbian dual citizen, regarding the attempted demolition of the warehouse, which dates from a time that Plovdiv was an important centre of the Balkan tobacco trade in the early part of the 20th century.
Demolition work on the 8 Odrin Street former tobacco warehouse began during a holiday long weekend but was halted by authorities after they were alerted by concerned citizens. By then, however, significant damage had been done.
The charges against Branekov, in his capacity as manager of the Odrin 8 company, include involvement in illegal activities in a cultural heritage conservation zone, and in complicity with Nikolic, knowingly benefiting from an altered official document, a certificate from the Culture Ministry supposedly saying that the 8 Odrin Street warehouse did not have protected status under cultural heritage law.
Nikolic also is charged with knowingly breaking the Cultural Heritage Act, and with inciting Branekov to commit a crime by advising him regarding the dealing with documentation on cultural heritage. The Bulgarian-Serbian dual citizen also is charged with benefiting from an altered official document.
Thirty-four witnesses have been summoned for the trial, prosecutors said. There have been forensic examinations of evidence in computer and written records, and search-and-seizure operations in the course of the investigation.
The plan was for the Tobacco Town warehouse to be demolished to make way for the construction of a multi-storey luxury hotel with underground parking garages and other service buildings, prosecutors said.
Previously, prosecutors lodged numerous charges in court against the former chief architect of Plovdiv, Roumen Roussev, in connection with the attempted demolition of the 8 Odrin Street former tobacco warehouse. Roussev died in January 2017.
(The former tobacco warehouse at 8 Odrin Street, Plovdiv, photographed on August 22 2016, more than five months after an attempt to demolish it. Photo: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)