Bulgaria’s Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov has been taken into 24-hour custody, several Bulgarian media reported on January 9, quoting the spokesperson for the Prosecutor-General’s office, Siyka Mileva. Dimov was reported to be set to spend the night in a police cell in Sofia.
No charges have yet been laid against Dimov, Bulgarian National Radio quoted Mileva as saying.
Special Prosecutor’s Office staff and Interior Ministry officers began questioning Dimov at his office on the morning of January 9. In the early afternoon, he was taken from the building and placed in a Prosecutor’s Office van to be taken away for further questioning.
An earlier formal statement by the Prosecutor’s Office said that on Thursday, Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev was in the town of Pernik to co-ordinate ongoing actions in the investigation connected to pre-trial proceedings regarding the water crisis in the town.
Pernik has been subject to severe water restrictions for about two months, a matter that has been under investigation by several institutions.
The statement said that investigators from the Special Prosecutor’s Office, in co-operation with the State Agency for National Security, anti-corruption commission and Interior Ministry bodies, were carrying out search-and-seizure at the Pernik district administration, the Pernik water and sanitation company and the Ministry of Enviroment and Water.
“Evidence is being collected of crimes committed by officials that led to water supply problems in Pernik,” the Prosecutor’s Office statement said.
Reportedly also questioned were Irena Sokolova, a former district governor of Pernik and leader of the women’s league of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party and Ivan Vitanov, the suspended head of the water and sanitation company.
On December 27, on the orders of Geshev, the investigations into the water crisis in Pernik and the reasons that led to it were placed under special supervision, carried out personally by a prosecutor from the Specialist Division at the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office.
The statement added that on January 9, actions were carried out by the State Agency for National Security and national police in connection with an investigation by the Prosecutor-General into alleged breaches of the Waste Management Act and the Environmental Protection Act.
On January 9, reporters asked Borissov about the fate of Environment Minister Dimov, but the Prime Minister said that this was a matter for discussion with the coalition partners. In the third Borissov government, formed in May 2017, Dimov sits as the nominee of the minority partner in the coalition, the ultra-nationalist United Patriots.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party has said that on January 20, when the National Assembly resumes, it will table a motion of no confidence in Borissov’s Cabinet on the grounds of what the party terms the failures of the government’s environment and water policies.
(Photo of Dimov: government.bg)