THE PROSECUTION ON FORGED PARTY PETITIONS: THERE IS CRIME BUT IT IS NOT OF PUBLIC CONCERN

by Екип на Биволъ

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The Varna District Prosecutor’s Office has suspended in February the pre-trial proceedings in the falsified signatures in the petition for participation in 2011 local elections of political party “Movement Our City,” known as the party of TIM (the Varna-based alleged powerful organized crime group – editor’s note).

Prosecutors worked on a tipoff that the petition of “Our City,” originally returned by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) for insufficient number of signatures, has been completed in the course of two days by the use of citizens’ data from the registers of the retirement fund “Sila” (Power), which is also owned by TIM.

The participation of “Movement Our City” in local elections in 2011 became questionable when on August 9 CEC deleted its registration due to an insufficient number of supporters. CEC’s verification established 5 867 correct entries of voters supporting the party. According to Article 89, Paragraph 3, Section 11 of the Electoral Code, at least 7 000 voters are needed for a party to run in elections.

Following an appeal before the Supreme Administrative Court, CEC gave “Our City” until 5 pm on August 18 to submit the missing voters’ signatures. They managed to gather the signatures and on August 23 CEC restored the registration of “Our City.”

The majority of names in groups of 16 persons

After two years of questioning witnesses and graphology expert reports, it was established that “in some of the lists, the majority of the names have been written in groups of 16 persons and the signatures against these names were performed by the same person.”

Despite the questioning of more than 400 persons, the prosecution failed to gather clear evidence of the perpetrator behind the criminal act under Article 309/Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code. Its statement shows that some of the questioned people said they never signed the petition, while others recognized the text and their signatures, but did not remember signing in support of this party.

Prosecutor Daskalova terminated the pre-trial proceedings on ground that the act was “obviously insignificant regarding public threat” and also pondered that the “described act was not premeditated thus there is no committed crime as the members and supporters of the party, who copied data and forged signatures, lacked intent and awareness of purpose – to use an incriminated document and inflict damaging result.”

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The statement does not include a single word about the Commission for Protection of Personal Data, which should receive the file and fine the party “Movement Our City” and Retirement Fund “Sila” for abuse of personal data.

The operative part of the Criminal Code that punishes not only the author of the act under article 309, but also the one using forged documents to exercise any right is also ignored.

Art. 309. (1) Whoever himself or through another person creates a false private document or changes the content of a private document and uses it to prove that any right or obligation or any legal relationship exists or does not exist or is terminated or amended is punished for document fraud by up to two years of imprisonment.

In this case, the political party “Movement Our City” has received the right to run in elections with a false petition.

Bivol predicted earlier that the public scandal, involving identity theft and falsifications of signatures in party petitions for the 2014 European elections, noted by citizens, will have the same outcome. Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, also expressed doubt that the prosecution will find the specific perpetrators of the forgeries. There seems to be consensus to not seek responsibility for the use of forged documents, which would affect directly the leadership of Bulgarian political parties.

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This post is also available in: Bulgarian