The European Parliament on Wednesday (11 March) lifted the immunity of member Sergei Stanishev, a former Bulgarian prime minister who is also the President of the Party of European Socialists, to allow his country to prosecute him over allegedly losing secret documents.
The parliament sitting in Strasbourg made the decision after saying that the case against Stanishev, who is head of the European Socialist Party, had nothing to do with his role as an MEP.
Stanishev was elected President of PES in 2012, but had taken the job already in 2011 when his predecessor, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, stepped down on short notice. He will run for reelection later this year.
“The European Parliament…decides to waive the immunity of Sergei Stanishev,” the parliament’s decision read, adding the waiver request came from the chief public prosecutor of Bulgaria.
Stanishev was charged in July 2010 with losing documents containing state secrets, prosecutors in Sofia said.
If found guilty, Stanishev, a Socialist who was premier from 2005 until 2009, could face a two-year jail sentence or a fine.
Prosecutors accused Stanishev of “losing seven documents between November 2005 and September 2009.”
The documents were handed to the former prime minister to sign, but were apparently never handed back by Stanishev, the prosecutors allege.
Stanishev, who has said he handed all the documents to the government’s secret documents department, said in a statement released Wednesday, “In Bulgaria it is clear to everyone that the case against me is political.”