Ex-Mayor of Sofia Borough Placed under House Arrest as She Awaits Appeal of Her Prison Sentence for Asking a Bribe

May 8 (BTA) - The Appellate Specialized Criminal Court put the ex-mayor of Sofia's Mladost borough, Dessislava Ivancheva, and her former deputy, Bilyana Petrova, under house arrest awaiting an appeal of their prison sentence for asking a bribe. The first-instance court placed them in permanent custody after being sentenced to 20 years and 15 years in prison respectively.

The decision of the appellate court is final.

The court found that the two women showed good conduct and that there was no evidence to suggest that they would be absconding. Also, they are unlikely to commit a crime, the court found.

Ivancheva and Petrova's health and family situation are also among the reasons for the decision. Ivancheva has submitted papers that she is going to undergo surgery at the end of May.

Petrova also asked to be placed under house arrest in order to be able to take care of her family and prepare her defense, as the conditions of her detention did not allow for it.

At the hearing, the two defendants explained that they have strictly adhered to their house arrest conditions, which they served until their sentence.

Ivancheva's lawyer Nikolai Hadzhigenov, who replaced her former defender Marin Markovski, told the press that he was rather surprised by the court's decision, although it was desired and hard earned.

The court decision will allow Ivancheva to campaign more adequately as an independent candidate for the European Parliament. She was nominated by an initiative committee. IG/DT