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Closing Statements Begin in Bulgaria's Notorious SAPARD CaseClosing Statements Begin in Bulgaria's Notorious SAPARD Case

Date: 21.06.2010

The Sofia City Court hears Monday the closing statements in the high-profile SAPARD case of Mario Nikolov, which is closely monitored by the EU.

Nikolov, his wife Mariyana, Radmil Petrov, Petya Hadzhiivanova, Anna Sharkova, Grigor Glavev, Valentin Angelov, and Lazarina Georgieva are charged with draining a total of EUR 7.5 M from the EU pre-accession program for agriculture.

They are accused of listing second-hand meat processing equipment as new in order to drain the money.

In the last minute defense lawyers asked for new evidence and even for the dismissal of the case with the motive the European Union had not been listed as a side in it, but the magistrates rejected them.

It is expected the Prosecutor will ask Monday for sentences of 20 years behind bars.

On March 29, the same Court sentenced Nikolov to 10 years behind bars and his wife, Mariana, to 8 years in another notorious SAPARD case. The two were charged, along with Lyudmil Stoykov, with laundering the money drained from SAPARD. Stoykov was acquitted by the Court.

The trail against Nikolov and another businessman, Lyudmil Stoykov, who are known as sponsors of the election campaign of Socialist President Parvanov, was provoked by revelations of the European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF, which spoke of a “Nikolov-Stoykov Group”.

According to OLAF, a group of 60 Bulgarian, foreign and offshore organization that had links with the previous government, led by Socialist Sergey Stanishev, had participated in tax fraud and money laundering.

Both Nikolov and Stoykov are known for being close to the Bulgarian Socialist Party; however, unlike Nikolov, Stoykov was acquitted by the Bulgarian court on the SAPARD draining charges.

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