Bulgarian ex-spy chief gets 15 years

Bulgarian ex-spy chief gets 15 years

SOFIA – Agence France-Presse
Bulgarian ex-spy chief gets 15 years

A Bulgarian court sentenced on Jan. 23 a former head of the intelligence agency to 15 years in jail and ordered the confiscation of half his assets after finding him guilty of embezzlement.

Convictions of high-ranking officials are rare in Bulgaria, the poorest nation in the European Union and according to Transparency International its most corrupt.

Kircho Kirov, 67, worked for the communist-era secret services and then headed the National Intelligence Service from 2003-2012.

He was accused of pocketing 5.1 million leva ($3.2 million) between 2007 and 2011, in complicity with one of his subordinate officers.

Kirov denied the charges on Jan. 23, saying that they were politically motivated and that he would appeal.

He was already sentenced in another trial in 2015 to 10 years in jail for issuing false expenses claims and embezzling 4.7 million leva.

The Supreme Court of Appeal however ruled in late 2016 to overturn the sentence and sent the case back for review.

Kirov is also facing charges in a third trial for allegedly divulging state secrets in a 2014 television interview.

Bulgaria, which currently holds the EU presidency, joined the bloc in 2007 but has largely failed to deliver on its pledges to root out corruption and put notorious organised crime bosses and high-ranking offenders behind bars.

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