MAGISTRATES FREE OLYA GENCHEVA FROM MURAVEY RADEV'S CLUTCH
The Sofia Regional Court (SRC) rejected the request of former finance minister Muravey Radev to extend his claim for calumny, filed against the incumbent Finance Minsiter Milen Velchev. On May 7, 2003, Mr. Radev insisted that Olya Gencheva, Director of the Finance Ministry's PR Service, should also be held responsible on the same accusation. Three days later, on May 10 (Saturday), judge Karamfila Todorova turned down the request of the former minister. The reason for her ruling is that the legal term of prescription for such annexes is set to six months from the moment when the plaintiff (that is Muravey Radev) has learnt that Ms. Gencheva has participated in the distribution of disgracing facts and circumstances.Mr. Radev's claim against Velchev is based on an information, released on March 26, 2002, on the website of the Ministry of Finance. The information says that Milen Velchev has referred to the Prosecutors' Office on three violations, carried out by his predecessor Muravey Radev. It is also pointed out that in the sale of BULBANK Mr. Radev (as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank Consolidation Company) had agreed certain guarantees for the buyer UniCredito Italiano which might inlict losses to the State.The second wrongdoing of Mr Radev is reported to be his 2001 permission for additional budgetary expenses amounting to BGN330MN, without specifying the source of the money. The third accusation was that on July 13, 1999, the then finance minister Muravey Radev had announced the firm Kapellen-Wien as winner in the competition for supplier of paper with protective elements (despite the fact that its offer had been ranked sixth).However, Mr. Radev says that the information released on the website is wrong and that he should not be named a criminal before prosecutors have submitted official charges against him. Therefore, early in July, 2002 (the first hearing was on July 18) he filed a suit for calumny against Milen Velchev. At the court session on February 12, 2003 Olya Gencheva was questioned as a witness. She explained that she had the right to decide on her own whether a certain message should be published or not. That statement made Muravey Radev on May 7, 2003, try to add her as a defendant.After the hearing on May 10 Muravey Radev informed the BANKER weekly that he was satisfied by judge Todorova's ruling, despite the fact that she actually rejected his request.Mr. Velchev intended to share the responsibility with Olya Gencheva. That's why I requested that she should also be added as a defendant. By turning down my request the court in fact admitted that Milen Velchev is solely responsible for all actions of the Finance Ministry, and that in case the court rules in favour of my claim for calumny, he cannot share the blame with any of his officials, Mr. Radev said.According to Mr. Velchev's legal defender Stoyan Krastev, all facts published against the ex-minister Radev on the Finance Ministry's website are absolutely true.Take as an example the fact that Muravey Radev did not co-ordinate in written with the other ministers his decision for additional budgetary expenses of BGN330MN, said Mr. Krastev in front of the BANKER weekly. Mr. Radev says that he had asked their consent by word of mouth which, you have to agree, does not sound serious. Moreover, the motives for those expenses had been described on only one page and they made it clear that this money could be spent on everything - from capital construction works to transfers to the Cultural Ministry, comments lawyer Krastev.The next hearing of the case has been scheduled for May 29. It will discuss the circumstances regarding Mr. Radev's announcing the firm Kapellen-Wien as winner of the competition for supplier of paper with protective elements. Then Muravey Radev's mysterious witness (whose name the former finance minister has so far kept secret) will also appear in court to give testimony.