A Court in Madrid has refused to comply with a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office which is seeking to detain Toni Ivanov, publicly named by Ivan Geshev, Prosecutor General, and his subordinates, as a key participant in a plot to target senior magistrates and police officials. (ACF has access to the court decision, and the attached images show its first and last pages).
In early April, Spanish police arrested Ivanov. However, on 21 April, a court in Madrid refused to comply with the extradition request of the Bulgarian authorities, setting him free.
The Spanish court has motivated its decision to free Ivanov with the lack of timely judicial control over EAWs issued by Bulgarian prosecutors. Such a mechanism is mandatory, as per the interpretation of the Framework Decision on EAW (which regulates the issue of cross-border judicial surrender) by the European Court of Justice. A draft bill to synchronize Bulgarian national law with EU law has been prepared by the Ministry of Justice and put forward to the 49th National Assembly.
The decision of the Spanish court provides crucial information about the charges against Ivanov filed by the Bulgarian authorities. It turns out that his arrest warrant was not issued based on the conspiracy plot that senior prosecutors have been discussing in the media. The charges against Ivanov had been brought forward because of alleged extortion and threats. The victims were three persons pressured into selling property and repaying loans. Ivanov had also been charged with possession of 70g of cocaine, discovered during a second search of a rental property where he had been living. The grounds for the extortion charges are questionable. For example, Ivanov had “threatened the victim K. with dangerous consequences should he refuse to sell his property, saying: ‘Wait until the expropriation in April then!” and “threatened K. with serious consequences, saying: ‘We are not just anybody. Think about it’ in a bid to pressure the victim into selling a property”.
Spain has become the second country refusing to comply with the extradition requests of Bulgarian authorities in the past few days after Serbia did not even detain the founders of cryptocurrency company Nexo who have been charged with running an organized criminal group.