Vasil Bozhkov remains in custody permanently, the Bulgarian court decided, after the gambling boss was detained on his return to Bulgaria. During the court session, the prosecutor’s office presented data on communication and joint business between Bozhkov and the leader of the private military company “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin.

On leaving the courtroom, when asked by BNT if he would appeal, the businessman said he would.

Pointing to evidence of Vasyl Bozhkov‘s close relationship with Prigozhin and other Russian citizens such as  Alexei Gabrev, a former head of Rosneft and designated by the prosecution as part of the ruling elite in Moscow, the state prosecution motivated their thesis that Vasil Bozhkov had both the financial, as well as purely logistical possibilities to hide.

It also became clear that Bozhkov‘s gambling business even reached the illegally annexed Crimea, and in Moldova and in Bulgaria, the businessman’s companies are being investigated for concealment of gambling fees. The case was heard in the late afternoon yesterday at the Sofia Courthouse in the capital under heightened security measures even in the building, although on the day off only journalists were inside besides the litigants.

Special security measures, fenced corridors and silence on the part of Vasil Bozhkov marked the beginning of the court session. In court, the prosecutor’s office asked for the businessman’s permanent detention, and Bozhkov replied: “the prosecutor can ask for whatever he wants.

Prosecutor Angel Kanev first pointed to the evidence that motivated the conclusion that Bozhkov could hide. It became clear that he left the country the day before the action, after an unnamed politician warned him of what was being prepared. In addition, electronic correspondence with the leader of the private military company “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin was found in a computer seized from his office. The prosecutor’s office also claims that there were also contacts between the businessman and agents of the Russian services.

BNT: What were his business relations with Prigozhin, you mentioned them in an open court session?

Angel Kanev, prosecutor at the SCP: “I presented the specifics in the court session, I think it is not right to comment on details here outside the courtroom. All the circumstances that were commented on are derived from the written and oral evidence in the case, including the classified information in the case. Everything has been commented in connection with this, there was a reasonable assumption that the accused Bozhkov was involved in the specific criminal activity and whether he could be hiding. You saw for yourself that the court accepted the thesis both for the reasonable assumption and that there is a danger of hiding.”

These are things that you heard were somehow brought into this case, I don’t know how and why. And 90% of the time was spent commenting on stories about Crimea, you heard about the war in Ukraine, the mafia, Europe,” said the lawyer of Bozhkov Georgi Gatev.

BNT: Prosecutor Kanev tried in this way to motivate the danger Bozhkov hiding?

Lawyer Georgi Gatev: “Perhaps this is what he wanted to do, mainly for this purpose, these circumstances were exposed, his connections with foreigners, with Russians, with Ukrainians, with I don’t know who else. You heard. I assume that was the purpose, which of course is absolutely illegal because it has nothing to do with the case“.

The prosecution also presented evidence of agreements between Bozhkov and former chairmen of the Gambling Commission for the payment of lower fees in exchange for under-the-table remuneration. In addition, the licenses of competitors had to be blocked, as well as the licenses of operators that Bozhkov did not control.

The court accepted that the evidence was sufficient to assume that Vasil Bozhkov committed these crimes and cited the testimony of the former head of the commission, Maria Filipova, who refused a bribe of 10,000 leva per day, as well as to carry out Bozhkov‘s orders. Then the businessman tried to rape her.

Thus, at least for now, Vasil Bozhkov remains in custody. His appeal against yesterday’s judgment will be heard by the Court of Appeal on September 5.

Vasil Bozhkov‘s lawyer stated that someone is interested in the businessman being in custody, but did not specify a specific name. He explained that he draws this conclusion from the way in which the events surrounding Vasil Bozhkov and the attempts to make a connection between his return and the murder of Alexei Petrov were covered in recent days.

Gatev himself explained to BNT last night that the coincidence was accidental. According to him, only two days ago Bozhkov received permission to leave the United Arab Emirates and returned home on the first possible flight to Bulgaria.

Source: Bulgaria: The Court left Vasil Bozhkov in Custody – He communicated with Prigozhin? – – Sofia News Agency


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