ProsecutionLeaks #1: A Friendship from 1997, Lunches and Family Conversations: Prosecutor Iliana Kirilova's Testimony About Petar Petrov "The Euro"

“I personally wondered, if this were true, whether Petrov was the driving force behind this or [wife] Lubena.”

This is an excerpt from the testimony of Iliana Kirilova, head of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office (SCPO), describing her reaction to the first episodes of the investigation The Eight Dwarves which the Anti-Corruption Fund Foundation (ACF) had released in June 2020.

Абонирайте се за бюлетина на АКФ, за да научавате за най-новите ни разследвания и анализи:

С натискане на бутона потвърждавате, че сте запознати с Политиката ни за поверителност

At the time of giving the testimony (in 2023), Kirilova had just been elected head of the SCPO where she launched a prolonged and fruitless probe into the case involving her former colleague, boss and long-time, close confidant Petar Petrov “The Euro”, a suspected influence peddler within the judicial system. The probe was completed with a refusal to initiate pre-trial proceedings due to lack of evidence of a crime.

Last week, Prosecutor Kirilova refused to appear before the ad-hoc parliamentary committee established to investigate Martin Bojanov “The Notary”, another influence peddler in the judicial system who was murdered in January this year. Following Kirilova’s refusal to appear in front of the committee, several of its members pointed out that, had they been given the chance, they would have questioned her over her links with Petrov.

In an attempt to shed light on the nature of Kirilova’s relationship with Petrov, ACF is publishing the testimony that she gave last year when she was questioned by the SCPO. The interrogation took place in July 2023 and was led by one of Kirilova’s direct subordinates, Prosecutor Yordan Petrov, along with an investigator from the Investigation Department of the SCPO. It took place within the framework of pre-trial proceedings conducted by the lower-ranking Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office.  The case file, which was then referred to the SCPO, possibly contained evidence of crimes committed by magistrates, including Kirilova for whom witnesses claim affiliation with Petrov.

The first part of the testimony concerns events surrounding the alleged resignation of Ivan geshev, the former Prosecutor General. The topic is then abruptly switched to the relationship between Kirilova and Petrov.

In her words, the acquaintance dates back to 1997. Since then, Kirilova and Petrov were in regular contact, including following Petrov’s departure from the Sofia prosecution service in April 2015. Kirilova speaks of a close family and collegial relationship between the two. She mentions she has visited the Eight Dwarfs restaurant (then managed by Petrov) in 2020. Furthermore, according to the testimony, Petrov sent her family photos in 2023.

An important detail shared by Kirillova concerns her meeting Petrov’s then-girlfriend, Lubena. The introduction took place in a building of the prosecution service during Petrov’s last days in office.

Days later, Lyubena Pavlova becoming popular in the media as the head of an organization, Plan B organization, coordinating the counter-protests against the protests by civil activists demanding judicial reform and the resignation of the then Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov.

Kirilova also described meeting “Mitko” from security company Delta Guard (Dimitar Spasov “Karatista”) who was head of the security of the Eight Dwarves restaurant and showed “unhealthy interest” in who she was.

“Isn’t this fragment meant to explain Spasov’s own testimony about seeing Kirilova at the restaurant? Probably not, because she should not have been privy to the contents of testimony directly concerning her,” said Nikolay Staykov, co-founder of ACF. “It also remains unclear whether the long-serving magistrate Kirilova did not eventually ask herself during her visits to the Eight Dwarfs why this small and inconspicuous Sofia restaurant needed such high security.”

Kirillova also stated that she had heard from “prosecutors from the regional prosecutor’s office”, who often lunched at the Eight Dwarfs because of its proximity to the premises of the regional prosecutor’s office, that former Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev had been a frequent visitor to the restaurant. Who these prosecutors were, however, was never clarified in the course of the interrogation.

The interrogation contains Kirillova’s conclusion that “somehow [Petrov] supported Geshev in becoming Prosecutor General, I don’t know how”. She is certain, however, that Petrov has had nothing to do with her own career advancement.

The testimony also contains an interesting detail about the investigation into the insolvency of Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB), which Kirilova considers to be a professional achievement key to her election as prosecutor. At the time Kirilova was an investigator and was appointed by Petar Petrov to lead Sector 01 which worked on the KTB case.

According to the testimony, the interrogations took place in Petrov’s office because that was where the records were kept as “the office allowed for the documents to be kept there.”

The investigation into the KTB case in which 18 people were eventually charged was launched not following the widely-publicized reports by multiple citizens and a prosecutor’s announcement from 26 February 2014, but a month later, following a report from a single complainant. Subsequently, several media outlets established that a person with such a name and address did not exist . The report omitted to name Delyan Peevski and other implicated politicians. However, this report was processed quickly, and, in just three hours, pre-trial proceedings were initiated and an investigator appointed.

For two months, the investigator of the case, assigned after a random selection, was Petar Petrov. In June 2014, he stepped down on the grounds of “owning bank cards from the KTB”.

However, according to Kirilova’s testimony the investigation of the case literally took place in his office.

ACF has published the entire protocol of the interrogation of Prosecutor Iliana Kirilova only deleting personal data.