(DF) Five MP Candidates Detained for Vote Buying

April 14 (BTA) – Five candidates for parliament have been arrested for vote buying, the prosecution service told a briefing on Wednesday. Two of them were placed in 72-hour custody, another two are held in indefinite custody, and one was released on his own recognizance. The Prosecutor General’s Spokesperson, Siyka Mileva, commented that for the first time under the Money Laundering Act, some 425,000 leva had been garnished and over 383,000 leva seized at the prosecution service’s request to prevent their use for vote buying. The prosecuting magistracy has detected various groups for drug trafficking and migrant smuggling who were looking for vote-buying schemes, Mileva explained. Four proceedings for vote buying have been launched at the Sofia City Prosecution Office. One of them is against a crime group involving one MP candidate that was active between February 6 and April 4. The alleged ringleader is the owner of four firms running a CNG filling station, a hotel complex and cable television. He kept in contact online with the informal leader of a party residing in a third country. The group also included a former deputy mayor and current municipal councillor, and a person influential in predominantly Roma neighbourhoods. The proceedings in question were initiated and conducted by the regional prosecution office in Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria) but were referred to the Sofia City Prosecution Office as the competent institution. All but one member of this group, including the ringleader, have been placed in indefinite custody. The candidate for parliament, who was arrested, failed to win a seat. Later on Wednesday, it transpired that the prosecution service is gathering evidence against a Bulgarian national in Dubai within the proceedings for vote buying. Mileva refused to name this person but confirmed for BTA that the specialized prosecution service is already investigating him for other crimes. NV, RI/DS /DT/