SOFIA COURT OF APPEAL SENDS VASSIL PIRALKOV BACK TO WORK
Vassil Piralkov will remain Municipal Bank Executive Director, the Sofia Court of Appeal decided on February 1, 2005. The judges of appeal cancelled the decision taken by the Sofia City Court a week ago to dismiss Piralkov from the post. The city judge Georgi Kolev accepted the prosecutors' arguments that in his official capacity Piralkov might provide conditions for hiding or destroying documents that are important for the criminal procedure against him and the Chairman of the Municipal Bank Supervisory Board, Lyubomir Pavlov.The two men were indicted under art. 282 of the Penal Code for abuse of power on January 20. The prosecutors accuse them of having created conditions for hidden transfer of bank shares from three municipal companies - Water Supply and Sewage, Roads and Facilities, and Sofinvest, to four private companies - Sofia Pharmacies, Sofstroy, Sredets Public Utilities, Equipment Assembly and Fitting Company. Thanks to that operation, the buyers acquired a total 25% stake of the capital of the bank and gained control over the decision making process of its general meeting. In turn, the Sofia Municipal Council suffered damages worth BGN16MN because of the transfer of the bank shares.Last week the Sofia City Court and the Sofia Court of Appeal cooled the enthusiasm of the prosecutors by turning down their claims for taking Pavlov and Piralkov under arrest. As to their removal from office, things went different. Pavlov did not attend the January 27 meeting of the Sofia City Court and judge Georgi Kolev divided the case in two parts - one against Pavlov and the other against Piralkov. Then he declared that Piralkov had to be removed from the executive director post.Piralkov's lawyer appealed against the sentence before the Sofia Court of Appeal. On February 1 the court declared the decision of the city court wrong and cancelled the sentence. According to the judge of appeal, Galina Toneva, the city court judge Georgi Kolev illegally divided in two the case for Pavlov and Piralkov's removal. That is why she sent the case back to other judges in the city court. She explained that Georgi Kolev already declared his opinion of the case once and might be prejudiced if he was to take a new decision on it.