Specialized Prosecution leads raid of Pernik water company offices over water crisis

Specialized Prosecution leads raid of Pernik water company offices over water crisis

The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office together with special task forces from the Ministry of Interior, the State Agency for National Security and the Anticorruption Commission raided the water supply company in Pernik early morning on January 9. Focus-news.net reported that Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev is personally taking part in the operation.

Specialized prosecutors are investigating officials from the water supply company for possible wrongdoings that led to the unprecedented water crisis in Pernik. The investigations are focused on mismanagement: whether local officials (both from the water supply company in Pernik and the municipal administration) have taken appropriate steps to ensure the security of the region’s water supply between 2017 and 2019. The inquirers touch on infrastructure management as well as risk assessment, mitigation and control based on meteorological data.

The local TV station Krakra reported the day before the raid that the Pernik water company is almost bankrupt while specialist staff are quitting. The company is facing 80% water losses, which could only be mitigated by renovating 200 meters of the local water pipeline infrastructure. The entire local pipeline system totals at 300 meters.

Pernik and the neighboring towns are under water restrictions since November 18 and in a state of emergency. The main water supply – the Studena reservoir - is almost dried out: a fact that local officials concealed for months, likely due to the upcoming at the time local elections, held late October. In December the Prosecutor General announced he will personally oversee the process of indictments, which the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office had to draft. The investigations, however, focus only on local officials, while the ministers from the two ministries, which are in charge of the national policies regarding water supply, are notably absent. Ecology Minister Neno Dimov and Regional Minister Petya Avramova both denied having any responsibility in the matter and the Prosecutor’s Office apparently concurs with their view on the matter.

UPDATE 16:00: Minister Neno Dimov was taken in for questioning in a Prosecutor's Office van. PM Boyko Borissov implied Dimov could be removed following talks among members of the ruling coalition. Neno Dimov said he was not under arrest but cooperating with authorities.

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