A well-reasoned prosecutor’s opinion that the Mayor of the coastal town of Tsarevo, Georgi Lapchev, has committed an abuse of office has been crushed by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office. Thus, the “Trump of Tsarevo” and Mayor elected on the ticket of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party has avoided prosecution in spite of the obvious and duly documented evidence that exposes him.

Inconvenient file in a prosecution ball passing

For more than six months, the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in the Black Sea city of Burgas, the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations have passed the ball of the inconvenient probe to one another. According to it, the Tsarevo Mayor has committed economic crimes in favor of the tenant of the “Dolphin” beach and camping ground, as Bivol established in a previous publication on the subject. Due to the change of the jurisdiction tasked with the prosecution of crimes committed by mayors – now in the scope of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Burgas has decided that it no longer wanted to deal with the probe and has sent it to the capital Sofia only to have it returned back to it. What has followed is an order by the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations to the Burgas prosecutors to issue a reasoned opinion. Such has been prepared by Prosecutor Marinchev, who writes:

In the course of the examination of the file, specific signals, statements and data about committed crimes of general character – under Art. 323a of the Penal Code (PC) – have been established and they have been committed by representatives of TIYVA INTERNATIONAL LTD and under Art. 219 of the PC and Art. 221 of the PC – by Georgi Lapchev, Mayor of the Municipality of Tsarevo.

It is about the fact that Georgi Lapchev has allowed the tenant of “Dolphin” free use of a pasture which is municipally-owned land. This same tenant “rose to fame” because of illegal construction in the Strandja Nature Park and harassment of nudists with the support of the local police.

The crimes, described by prosecutor Marinchev, call for up to three years in prison. Despite the strong evidence gathered against Lapchev, he has not faced any charges.

After the prolonged institutional passing of the ball, the case has finally “landed” on the desk of prosecutor Plamen Petrov from the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office. On February 2, 2018, he issued a decree, ruling that the Mayor of Tsarevo had not committed a crime and refused to launch pre-trial proceedings against him.

Excerpt from the decree of prosecutor Petrov from the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office

Prosecutor Petrov grounded his decision on sanctions issued by Lapchev and the actions he had taken against the tenant of the beach, but none of them is specified. At the moment of the start of the probe against Lapchev, there had been no such sanctions and actions, according to the decree of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Burgas.

It turns out that Lapchev has begun acting after the prosecutors have already asked him to give written explanations. These actions cannot overcome the fact that for several months Lapchev has been carrying out the economic crimes of which he is accused.

Excerpt from the decree of Prosecutor Marinchev from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Burgas

It is clear that the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office has completely overlooked the documents that unequivocally indicate that Georgi Lapchev has ignored several findings of the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters (RIEWs) of illegal construction on municipal property; has done nothing to stop it, and despite the letters of RIEWs has even granted the right to access the property and pass through it.

In the end, all the solid evidence against Lapchev has ended in the so-called “round folder” of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, and the GERB mayor emerges out of the probe as pure as the driven snow and almost looking like a warrior for the rule of law.

Special Unit continues to cater to the power

The story of Lapchev’s never-happened indictment is particularly significant against the backdrop of the forthcoming European monitoring report on Bulgaria’s judicial system and the attempts of the prosecution to demonstrate anti-corruption activity in the higher echelons of power.

It is obvious that precisely the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office is acting to ensure that there are politicians who are untouchable. This repeats the model of the “Special Unit” of Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, which watches the back of the government and attacks the inconvenient on its orders.

 

Investigator Boyko Atanasov was the first one to tell about the “Special Unit” in a series of exclusive interviews with Bivol (see here, here and here). He revealed the technology of the “prosecutor’s office bat”, personally controlled by Tsatsarov through a special group of trusted prosecutors and investigators in the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office (SCPO). They are taking hold of all important cases of political corruption and crimes in the higher echelons of power. The cases are against unknown perpetrators and are left to simmer only to be reopened when the need of political pressure arises.

After Boyko Atanasov’s revelations, a reshuffle took place, with the “Special Unit” being moved from the SCPO to the newly-formed Specialized Prosecutor’s Office that is now tasked with cases against elect politicians.

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