Bulgaria’s PM congratulates Interior Ministry on arrest of Borissov

The only way for there to be change in Bulgaria is when the untouchables are no longer above the law, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told reporters on March 18, the day after police arrested former prime minister and opposition GERB party leader Boiko Borissov.

Petkov congratulated the Interior Ministry and said that the work was done because the ministry could now act freely in accordance with the law.

Three people were arrested in the late-night operation on March 17: Borissov, former finance minister Vladislav Goranov and Sevdalina Arnaudova, formerly an official in Borissov’s government.

Petkov did not confirm that the arrests of Borissov and Goranov were in response to allegations by Vassil Bozhkov, the fugitive who fled Bulgaria and stands accused of a large number of organised crime and other charges.

Petkov said that it was a matter of corruption and insufficient control at the Finance Ministry at the time that Goranov was the minister.

In the corridors of Parliament on March 18, Interior Minister Boiko Rashkov declined to comment to reporters on the arrest of Borissov.

A statement by the Interior Ministry indicated that the arrests could be linked to some of the 120 cases that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is working on.

The ministry said that the designated supervising prosecutor had initially refused to meet the investigating police officer about the pre-trial materials.

If the Prosecutor’s Office did not issue an order for 72-hour detention, the three people arrested would be released from police custody, the Interior Ministry said.

The Prosecutor’s Office said that it had received a notice by fax on March 18 from the investigating police officer of pre-trial proceedings against the three.

In Sofia on March 18, supporters and members of GERB held a protest in the centre of the city.

President Roumen Radev, a long-standing political foe of Borissov, said that justice did not prevail until a court had ruled.

Radev said that he did not intervene in the work of law enforcement agencies.

Manfred Weber, head of the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament – GERB is an EPP member – said that the group was very concerned by the events in Sofia on the night of March 17.

The detention of Borissov “raises many questions which need to be clarified urgently,” Weber said.

“First of all by the Bulgarian police who appear to have taken action without an arrest warrant, and secondly by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office – EPPO who are said by the Bulgarian authorities to have provided the evidence that led to the arrest,” he said.

“Any alleged misuse of EU funds needs to be investigated without exception. This includes the responsibility of authorities to provide explanations to the public. The fight against corruption can only be successful if it is based on a clear separation of powers and due process within the framework of the rule of law,” Weber said.

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