Prosecutors charge Neno Dimov with official misconduct for Pernik water crisis

Dimov resigned as Ecology Minister just an hour before prosecutors informed the public of the charges

Neno Dimov escorted by prosecutors for questioning

After spending the night in jail, Ecology Minister Neno Dimov resigned his post Friday. An hour later the Prosecutor’s Office announced he is facing charges of official misconduct, which directly led to the water crisis in Pernik. Dimov was taken in for questioning in a van of the Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday and subsequently put under arrest for 24 hours.

According to the prosecutors the water levels in the Studena reservoir – the main water supply for the region – have been falling rapidly since 2018. The water supply company had informed the minister monthly about the falling water levels in Studena. Regardless Dimov continued to issue permits to industrial companies to extract water from the reservoir, sometimes in larger quantities than requested. The prosecutors claim that if the minister had stopped authorizing the redirection of high volumes of water for the steel industry companies near Pernik, the reservoir would now be full enough to meet the household needs of the region.

Pernik is under water restrictions since November 18 and is at risk of having no water at all within a month, according to experts.

Prosecutors and special task forces raided the water company offices in Pernik Thursday morning. The operation was carried out as part of the investigations into official misconduct, which might have led to the water crisis in Pernik. Later prosecutors raided the office of Neno Dimov in Sofia and took him in for questioning. Up until Thursday the Prosecutor’s Office had not mentioned he was part of the investigation. In its official statements it included only local officials as persons of interest. Dimov himself has publicly denied any responsibility on several occasions. After his arrest PM Boyko Borissov spoke about the possibility for Dimov’s removal for the first time.

One of the leaders of the coalition partner Krassimir Karakachanov described the events leading up to the resignation as a "public execution." Neno Dimov was a minister from Karakachanov’s party.

In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior announced that joint investigation actions with the State Agency for National Security will begin in all water supply companies in the country.

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