Bulgarian prosecutor requests removal of Borissov’s immunity
The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office requested the removal of the immunity of GERB party leader and former prime minister Boyko Borisov in order to be investigated in a case of money laundering, known in Bulgaria as ‘Barcelonagate’.
The investigation began nearly three years ago, while Borissov was still prime minister, when a video was shared in an anonymous Facebook group about a luxury property in a wealthy suburb of Barcelona where former Bulgarian model Borislava Yovcheva lived with her child.
The anonymous clip hinted that the child was Borissov’s, which he has always denied. The case was first investigated by the Spanish prosecutor’s office, which found indirect traces of money laundering, but without connecting it directly to Borisov, and in 2021 the investigation was transferred to Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian prosecutor’s office began to show public activity in the “Barcelonagate” investigation only three weeks ago after Borisov’s party announced that it supports the long-awaited judicial reform in the country, aimed at reducing the powers of the Bulgarian Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev. Immediately after that, Geshev threatened to clean up the “political garbage”.
On Tuesday, the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office requested the removal of Borisov’s parliamentary immunity, because there is sufficient evidence of money laundering. Bulgarian MPs can waive their immunity themselves or it can be removed by a vote of the parliament
“I was without immunity for two years. I will categorically not give up my immunity voluntarily now, because you have to be blind not to see what is happening right now,” said Borisov.
According to him, the prosecutor’s office acted on Tuesday to prevent a regular government from being elected with the support of his party and the coalition “We Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria” (PP-DB), which supports judicial reform.
The tension surrounding Borissov and the prosecutor’s office is happening in the midst of negotiations to form a regular pro-Western government between GERB and PP-DB, which would put an end to the two-and-a-half-year-long political crisis in the country. The vote is expected to be in the middle of next week.
“I have no worries about it (about “Barcelonagate”). None. I have not had, do not have and will not have any property in Spain! What more can I answer?” said Borisov.
A key witness in the case is the former model and Miss Bulgaria Ivayla Bakalova, who is a friend of Yovcheva and lived in the house in Barcelona. Bakalova claims that Borisov is the father of Yovcheva’s child and threatens that he knows enough about “Barcelonagate”.
At the end of last week, the parliamentary group of GERB announced that it will boycott all requests of the prosecutor’s office to remove the immunity of Bulgarian MPs.
Candidate for prime minister Nikolay Denkov (We Continue the Change) called on the prosecutor’s office not to be used as a political tool.
“The prosecutor’s office should not be used as a political club. The moment the first two political forces said they were ready to rule, you see what happens,” Denkov said.
MPs from other political parties, the populist “There is such a people” and the pro-Russian parties BSP and “Vazrazhdane” called for Borissov’s immunity to be lifted so that he could be investigated for “Barcelonagate”.
“If he claims that he is innocent, he should prove it in a transparent judicial process,” said BSP leader Kornelia Ninova.
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)