Bulgaria’s special anti-corruption unit at the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has lodged charges against Zhivko Martinov, formerly an MP for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, in connection with six crimes including coercion and issuing a death threat.
Martinov hit the headlines after allegations that he had demanded that a business person supply him with four tons of sudjuk – a traditional Balkan form of spicy sausage – that the then-MP claimed was for Borissov.
An initial investigation established that Borissov received no sudjuk. Amid the controversy, Borissov denounced Martinov as an embarrassment to the party and told reporters that he did not eat sudjuk because he had high blood pressure.
A statement by the Prosecutor’s Office on July 31 said that Martinov, who on July 25 announced his resignation from Parliament, had sought to extort 15 500 leva (about 7925 euro) from an unidentified individual. On this charge, Martinov could face jail of five to 15 years and a fine of 5000 to 10 000 leva.
For issuing the death threat, Martinov, if found guilty, could face jail for up to six years.
Martinov also is charged with issuing threats against a business person in the town of Dobrich, in 2012 and 2013, telling the person that he would send tax inspectors against him and “crush his companies” unless he was given four tons of sudjuk and 60kg of other meat.
Further, Martinov is charged with, in 2014, with obstructing justice in the case of a person who had caused through negligence the death of two people. For this, he faces up to five years in jail, if found guilty.
A further charge relates to threatening officials in Dobrich and Balchik to force them to fail to carry out their duties. If found guilty, this charge carries a prison sentence of up to six years.
Martinov is also accused of having attempted, in April 2017, to force the director of water supply in Dobrich in regard to appointments and dismissals of staff. If guilty of this charge, Martinov faces up to six years in jail.
Martinov, who denies wrongdoing and who last week told reporters that the allegations against him had been cooked up by political rivals, is out on bail of 45 000 leva.
The Prosecutor’s Office said that charges were being laid against Rosalina Brayova, the head of the regional directorate of food safety in Dobrich, arising from evidence gathered during the investigation into Martinov.
Prosecutors allege that Brayova issued an order to a company to suspend operations without having any legal grounds for her to issue the order. The company is owned by a person who is a witness against Martinov.
The suspension order was issued without any evidence of consumers having complained about the food, with no evidence of health risks from the food consumed at the site and with no evidence that the company had committed any irregularities, prosecutors said. The company had incurred financial losses as a result of the order, they said.
Braykova, if found guilty, could be jailed from one to eight years.