Bulgarian Madoff puts ultimatum to court for online questioning

Tsvetan Vassilev

The fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev sent a letter-declaration from his hiding place in Belgrade, putting an ultimatum to the court for him to be questioned and to make explanations by videoconferencing. He insisted the decision on his questioning to be taken immediately, but the judge refused him flatly.

The Bulgarian Madoff insisted in his request on clarifying "basic issues" after the interrogation of the second main witness Orlin Russev, whose testimony fixed him. Vassilev's letter was read by his lawyer, Konstantin Simeonov. It is inadmissible for the process to take place in a way that only one of the parties wants it, according to Tsvetan Vassilev.

His lawyers demanded the judge Virginia Petrova to be challenged, due to the fact that she precluded Vassilev from questioning. The judge is biased according to the lawyers.

The prosecutor Daniela Nacheva countered that Vassilev was questioned in absentia and his rights were not violated. He can come to Bulgaria personally and testify if he wants it so much, this was the opinion of the Prosecutor's Office.

The judge said that she would rule on the requested challenge at one of the next hearings. She added that no one will put an ultimatum to her when to make ruling, postponing the case for 8 July at 10.30 am.

Tsvetan Vassilev has requested the judge Virginia Petrova to rule at today's hearing whether he will be questioned online. He wants also to have the right like Simeon Djankov, to participate remotely in the trial and to ask questions to the witnesses. The judge rejected his request and she considered it as putting an ultimatum.

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