03 June 2005

A journalist has started FOI court proceedings on Friday, 3 June 2005, with the help of Access to Information Programme The news was spread out by "Novinar" newspaper on Monday. The appeal is against a denial of the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works to disclose the concession contract of Trakia highway. The case about this contract became quite scandalous in Bulgaria, since there was no tender procedure. NGOs and politicians shared publicly serious suspicions of corruption. There was unofficial information that the Prime minister's family had some indirect participation in the company taking the concession and that the Bulgarian government undertook heavy responsibilities to pay reparations to the company in case there would not be enough highway traffic during the concession period of 35 years. The concerns were so serious, that recently Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung informed that the European Investment Bank is reconsidering its financing strategy for the construction of part of the motorway. The EIB vice president confirmed the position.

 

In the course of media search for more information, the daily newspaper "Dnevnik" consulted by AIP, discovered that the Government failed to practically organize the public register of concessions data. Later a journalist from "Novinar" newspaper filed a FOI request for the contract and related documents to the Minister who had signed the contract. After the Minister denied access on grounds of "office secret“, the disclosure of which threatens to"unduly harm the interests of the state and other interests," the journalist appealed the denial to the Court.