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18 Mar, 2022 07:48

Ex-prime minister detained in EU probe

European prosecutors said they’ve been looking into some 120 cases of mishandling of EU funds in Bulgaria
Ex-prime minister detained in EU probe

Former Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov was detained by the country’s police on Thursday as part of an EU probe into the mishandling of EU funds by his government.

His home was searched by officers, according to his lawyer. Several other former top officials, including ex-finance minister Vladislav Goranov, were also reportedly arrested.

The Bulgarian Interior Ministry said in a statement that it was carrying out “a large-scale law enforcement operation… in connection with 120 cases of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.”

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, who was on a two-day visit to Sofia earlier this week, announced that her agency was investigating numerous instances of possible mishandling of EU aid by Bulgaria’s former cabinet in such areas as public procurement, agriculture, construction and recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Now is the time for the relevant Bulgarian authorities to team up with us, including on particularly sensitive cases,” she urged.

Borisov, who now leads the opposition Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, is the EU country’s second-longest serving prime minister. The 62-year-old served from 2009 to 2013 and from 2017 to 2021. His last years in office were marred by a corruption scandal and massive protests calling for his resignation.

The political veteran’s lawyer told local media that Borisov had been held for 24 hours on suspicion of blackmail. Bulgaria’s current Prime Minister Kiril Petkov had also been questioned as a witness in the case, he added.

On Thursday, Petkov posted a short message on Facebook, reading: “Nobody is above the law!” The head of government didn’t provide any context, but he was most likely referring to the detention of Borisov and his associates.

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