Prosecutor General’s “SWAT” Investigates Cases against Powerful People and Reports to Him

Cases against ministers, lawmakers and even against the Prime Minister are used for political racketeering

The technology of the “prosecution racket” is personally controlled by Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov through a special “SWAT” of five-seven investigators in the Sofia Investigative Services. All important cases of political corruption and crime in the higher echelons of power are assigned to them. The cases are being filed as “against unknown perpetrators” and left simmering, but they are reopened when the need to exert political pressure arises. The latest such example is connected with the judicial reform. There has been a case against current Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, launched when he was still Mayor of the capital Sofia, which has been reopened in order to “finish” the judicial reform. The whole process is controlled personally by Tsatsarov, to whom these cases are directly reported. Prosecutors cannot decide on grounds of internal conviction, but according to the orders and instructions of the Prosecutor General, otherwise they are “finished” by salary reduction, disciplinary proceedings and work overload.

The readers can find out all of the above in the interview with investigator Boyko Atanasov from the Investigation Department of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office (SSPO) given to Bivol. Atanasov is challenging before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) the division of investigators in the Department, which, he says, is in breach of the law.

After judges and lawyers backing the judicial reform, this is the first voice from the structure of the prosecution, who breaks the omerta and says “the Emperor has no clothes“. Whether others will follow him in anticipation of a European monitoring of the almighty Tsatsarov is yet to be seen. Or is Atanasov in turn going to be “finished” and the rest will bow their heads?

Boyko Atanasov is investigating magistrate at the Sofia Investigation Services. His name became publically known for the first time when he and three other colleagues shed light on the corruption practices of the then-Chief of the Fourth Investigation Services in Sofia – Hristo Stanchev. He was arrested on December 29, 2004, when receiving a bribe of 4,500 euro and 1,000 levs to shove under the rug a probe against a businessman. Before Stanchev’s arrest, four investigators, including Boyko Atanasov, alerted Sergey Stoychev, at that time Director of the Sofia Investigation about the corruption deal. He sent a signal to SJC. It contained information on eight specific abuses of office committed by Stanchev in investigation cases. After the signal, the “whistleblowers” life has turned into hell. In 2011, Atanasov investigated the first ever organized criminal group – The Untouchables – to be sentenced by the Sofia City Court. Despite his proven track record in fighting corruption, he was unsuccessful in his applications for the job competition to become administrative head of the Sofia District Prosecutor’s Office and the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office.

Boyko Atanasov: So, the allocation of cases in the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office is suspicious from the viewpoint of the law, violating the rights and the powers of all active investigators. There are three divisions: one division of five to seven investigators acting like some sort of “SWAT” to whom are assigned all cases that are related to economic and political corruption or crimes committed by employees of the Interior Ministry, ministers, MPs, etc. I am in “Second Division” that has only powers to investigate cases under art. 212 par. 5 (particularly large-scale document fraud – editor’s note) and there is “Third Division”, which employs the largest number of investigators, about 40, investigating investigation assignments. These are people sent from elsewhere, when an investigator cannot interrogate a witness from Sofia, who is ill or elderly, usually they are the ones interrogating them in individual cases; the cases assigned to them for investigation are no more than two to three per year, and the fact that this “SWAT” of a handful of people is investigating all cases that are assigned to the entire investigative division means one thing: their rights are violated; they are overloaded with work; they don’t even know on what they are working anymore, which is evident from their appearance, from the sick leave they present non-stop, from their effectiveness – they do not have one.

This “SWAT” department was created by Petio “The EURO” Petrov. He worked with his brother, at the time sent on an assignment; to my knowledge he is now permanently employed at the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office and they still work together. His girlfriend is also an investigator in this division, “First Division”, Antonova, Olya Petrova Antonova. She, as far as I know, in 2004, as a lawyer in the office of then-Deputy Director Nadezhda Koleva, together with Petio THE EURO Velkov Petrov investigated me. At that time she was a lawyer. Yet, she was brought to the office of Nadezhda Koleva, then-Deputy Director with a team of other deputy directors and they rummaged through my cases. Then I had to be fired.

Bivol: As a lawyer she was probing an investigator?

BA: As a lawyer, she was part of it and was helping the man with whom she was close at that time – Petio Velkov Petrov. Yes.

Bivol: What can you say about the cases that are investigated by the so-called “First Division”?

BA: All cases to be investigated by the Investigation Department are assigned only to these five or six people. What are these cases? They usually are against an unknown perpetrator. There are cases against ministers – unknown perpetrators, against a Prime Minister. He may be in them too. From the time while he was Mayor, maybe. These are secrets that are used when the moment for important events around the judicial reform approaches. At this point, these cases are being reopened. And work resumes. When the targets, the “unknown perpetrators” find out that they are being investigated, they change their political views in order for the judicial reform to fail; then the cases are stopped again. This is a small, dirty secret that exists at the present moment in the prosecution; not only in the Investigation Department, and its First Division, but in the Prosecutor’s Office as well. As it is known, the prosecution has a hierarchical structure and it is headed by the Prosecutor General. All these cases are reported directly and only to him. Why? Because cases should not be decided according to internal conviction, but according to orders and instructions that are given in Chapter 6 of the Judiciary Act. This is the most sinister thing. Otherwise, all those people who work on these cases, who are predominantly prosecutors sent on assignment by the District Prosecutor’s Office, are facing being sent back to this Office with a reduction of their salary, disciplinary proceedings, which is something already common in the structure, and being overwhelmed with reports, case overload, I am talking about cases of several hundred volumes that must be solved immediately, but time does not permit it. I apologize if I’m a little circumstantial, but these are important things that relate to the work of the structure.

Bivol: Do the investigators who work in the so-called “First Division” have specific traits?

BA: Since the arrival of Petyo Petrov as Head of Investigation Department until he remained such, this selection suffered very serious movement. Almost all investigators were checked for being fit for such things, for being susceptible to influence; people who can be ordered to do things; who will allow their cases to be taken from them and stay in the office of the Director of the Investigation Department or the Head of the Division, as it is now, and then to have these cases brought back to them. And that does not exist, at least in the Penal Code. This is a gross violation of the law, which so far has been tolerated by the leadership of the prosecution, by Mr. Tsatsarov currently.

Bivol: Why are you challenging the division in the Sofia Investigation?

BA: Because it is illegal. Any act that is carried out by investigators in violation of the principle of random allocation of cases can fail in Court tomorrow. And all this is a house of cards, which is based on make-believe rules that are not laws, but some fictional and unwritten rules. This is a mess – a chaos, well organized, strategically, by those who consume it, in order to be able to use this thing.

(To be continued)



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