Top Bulgarian Judges Charged with EU Funds Embezzlement


Bulgarian prosecutors pressed charges against two top judges on Monday for alleged abuse of power and embezzlement of European Union funds.

Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and has since been an almost permanent target of criticism by the bloc's executive arm for failing to reform its sluggish and corrupt judiciary.

On Monday, the head of the Military Appeals Court Petar Petkov and his predecessor Veselin Pengezov were charged with misusing EU funds earmarked for a new 350,000-euro ($480,000) administrative system in their court, prosecutors said.

The prosecutors did not say how much the judges are accused of embezzling from the project, which was launched in 2008.

Both Pengezov, who is now chairman of the Sofia Appeals Court, and Petkov have denied the allegations.

"Neither me nor my colleague Pengezov have any concerns. All the actions we took on the implementation of the project in question... have conformed with the law," Petkov told reporters.

"We have not misused any public funds -- neither to our own benefit, nor to the benefit of other persons," he added.

Bulgarian judges enjoy very low levels of public trust after systematically failing to jail notorious criminals in court trials that have dragged on for years.

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