Șoșev against the system

The businessman Petru Șoșev, ex member of the Communist Party (CP), contacted a few weeks ago API’s Investigation Department requesting the latter to investigate his arrest by law-enforcement institutions and his 20 day detention, actions which he considers “illegal” and “executed upon the order of some of the country’s top officials”.

Șoșev wanted that API’s investigation department be in charge of the investigations because his name was mentioned in the story related to the kidnapping of the Deputy Director of the Department for Informational Technologies (DIT), Piotr Dimitrov, and recently – in a commentary in the newspaper JURNAL de Chișinău, which said that he had been released from detention because he’s the communists man. Well, Șoșev asserts the contrary.

We accepted the challenge since it is part of the investigations of Dimitrov’s disappearance. At our first meeting, Șoșev asked how much the material would cost. I told him it would not cost anything but we would investigate the case on our own in order to realize an objective material.

The soap bubble

On 3 June of this year, the Criminal Investigator of the Department for Criminal Investigations (DCI) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Valeriu Chergan, signed the ordinance on the dismissal of the criminal case initiated against Petru Șoșev. In less than a month, the same institution radically changed its position. What happened?

The ex-MP was arrested by MIA representatives on 10 April, in full electoral campaign, and the warrant was issued on 12 April. In a few days, that fact was mentioned during a MIA briefing, and the leader of the Communist Party, Victor Stepaniuc, hurried to state that Șosev’s arrest and his being held accountable was a proof that the party was getting rid of its corrupt elements. Those details seemed to be more part of a well-prepared scenario especially for the electoral campaign of the governing party. Otherwise, how could we explain the fact that upon Șoșev’s release from detention not as much fuss was made as upon his arrest?

The representatives of DCI of MIA say that the reason for Șoșev’s arrest served the testimony of Iurie Bahcivangi, the driver who allegedly transported Dimitrov on the night of his kidnapping, on 2 August 2002. He declared to the investigation group that Șoșev had participated in the kidnapping and that Dimitrov recognized him but called him “Misha”. Something is not clear in this story.

The first strange thing is that the law-enforcement bodies invoked only now, eight months after Dimitrov’s disappearance that Șoșev had participated in Dimitrov’s kidnapping and murder.

Secondly, on 14 August last year, Șoșev was presented to Bahcivangi for identification and was not recognized, and in April of this year, upon Șoșev’s second presentation for identification – which is inadmissible in legal investigations – Bahcivangi stated that he knew him (he couldn’t state the contrary since he had seen him once before).

Thirdly, the accusations brought against Șoșev upon his arrest: complicity in Dimitrov’s kidnapping and participation in his murder. According to the legislation, a suspected person can be accused of murder only when the body is found, or the investigators couldn’t not know such a thing. In this case, Dimitrov’s body was not found. Moreover, during Șoșev’s detention, the investigators were demanding that he brought Dimitrov back. Then what kind of murder accusations can we talk about? All these, put end to end, clearly denote that Șoșev’s arrest was a well-prepared scenario for the electoral campaign of the Communist Party.

Our sources say that at least two motivations lie on the basis of Șoșev’s arrest: his refusal to fund the communists’ electoral campaign and the governing party’s desire to show once again that it fights against corruption, this time within the party, and thus to get the population’s votes in exchange for that “soap bubble”.

Suspicious dismissals

There is one more interesting detail in Dimitrov’s case. The disappearance of DCI deputy head was initially investigated by Chișinău prosecutor, Petru Bobu, and Botanica prosecutor (the district from which Dimitrov disappeared), Ion Vâzdoagă. API has written that when the investigation discovered important details which could lead to the identification of Dimitrov’s kidnappers, the two prosecutors were removed from the investigations, and shortly after they resigned from office. Sources from the General Prosecutor’s Office have stated that the internal investigation on the activity of the two prosecutors, initiated by the general prosecutor upon the order of President Voronin, based on a letter of the Minister of Internal Affairs, did not find irregularities that could have led to their dismissal. Nonetheless, the two prosecutors were obliged to submit requests for dismissal from office and resignation. Their dismissal continues to be under a question mark since, as several sources have told us, every appointment in and dismissal from office of judges and prosecutors takes place only upon coordination with the head of the state. So we conclude that the head of the state was probably interested in blocking the investigation of Dimitrov’s disappearance because, although the best specialists have been involved in the case investigation, the investigation has not advanced so far in clearing up the case.

Moreover, shortly after the two dismissals, the Parliament amended the Criminal Proceedings Code by transferring the competence of examining serious crime cases from the General Prosecutor’s Office to MIA. Also, the detention and accusation of Șoșev, a well-known businessman, ex-MP on the Communist Party’s lists and, according to the sources, one of the most important funders of the Communist Party in the 1998 and 2001 electoral campaigns, could not be exerted without the knowledge and, probably, agreement of Vladimir Voronin.

Stupid questions

Petru Șoșev has stated that he was illegally arrested and everything was done according to a well-directed plan whose execution was supervised by MIA leadership. He made it clear that he knows who organized everything but he does not want to make public their names because he needs strong evidence to confirm his suppositions. The ex Communist MP says that he was kept in the detention jail of MIA more than provided by the Criminal Proceedings Code and was subject to pressures that aimed at obtaining certain data about certain persons that are now among the country’s leadership and about certain businessmen. “They almost did not ask anything about Dimitrov, only if I could bring him to Chișinău. In rest, they asked for information that had nothing to do with Dimitrov’s kidnapping”, Șoșev stated.

Moreover, MIA representatives refused to provide him with the medical assistance that he needed. Although the doctors examined him and found that he had high blood pressure and a high level of sugar in the blood, he was not allowed to be examined in a hospital or hospitalized, as the legislation in force provides. He seemed to be bewildered by the fact that he had been locked up together with notorious criminals, which cannot be admitted since he is ex MIA officer on special missions. Let us remind you that Șoșev worked over 20 years for the Ministry of Internal Affairs starting as an ordinary policeman to main specialist for the discovery of murders within MIA Special Missions Division, a rather important and responsible position. According to the legislation in force, he was supposed to be kept in MIA’s detention jail only three days, after which he had to be transported to the detention jail of the Ministry of Justice. Such a procedure is followed so that the criminal investigation conducted by MIA is not influenced upon. But the respective procedure was not followed. About Dimitrov, Șoșev says that they were friends and could not wish him to die. They had done business together but not so important as to liquidate him. He suspects who could have ordered Dimitrov’s kidnapping but he cannot make their names public because he does not have strong enough evidence. He is not sure that Dimitrov is alive. But he is determined to make efforts and invest money to track him down or those who had kidnapped him. He thinks that somebody is lying in all this Dimitrov story, either his lover, from whose place he is supposed to have been kidnapped, or his family who seem way to calm. Moreover, Dimitrov could not leave his shoes, telephone and other things at the place from where he was kidnapped. These details rather denote that they had been left on purpose to mislead the investigation. Also suspicious is the fact that a day before the kidnapping, Dimitrov took his family on vacation.

Șoșev will fight

Initially, when Șoșev became MP on the Communist Party lists, he was not party member, but later he was forced to become one. The ex communist MP says that he is not guilty and is determined to go further to elucidate the case: “I know I am going against a system but I am determined to go until the end. MIA behaved unprofessionally during the arrest and criminal investigation”.

Șoșev’s attorney, Mihai Murzac, has stated that legislative provisions were violated upon his client’s arrest. First of all, his client was twice confronted with the same person, Iurie Bahcivangi, the driver who allegedly transported Dimitrov, which is inadmissible in criminal investigations.

The representatives of DCI of MIA refused to satisfy the attorney’s request that Șoșev be transferred to the detention jail of Ministry of Justice, thus violating again the legislation in force. On 30 April, the attorney Mihai Murzac requested that his client’s arrest be dismissed, since enough evidence was presented during the investigation which proved that Petru Șoșev was in Germany, on a trip with his family, at the moment Dimitrov was kidnapped. But on 7 May, the higher criminal investigator of exceptional cases of DCI of MIA, Valeriu Chergan, signed a refusal ordinance on the request submitted by the accused and his attorney arguing that the materials of the case no. 2001038072 proved that “Șoșev participated in the commitment of the offence, a fact proved by the suspected I. Bahcivangi that directly indicated that Șoșev together with his accomplices participated in the commitment of the crime”.

Moral damages

Murzac confirmed that he had requested the General Prosecutor’s Office to initiate criminal proceedings to establish the persons guilty of Petru Șoșev’s arrest, detention and accusation. Also, the Parliament and President will be informed about this case. Șoșev will request, according to the legislation in force, recovery of the caused moral damages. He says that his arrest alone seriously affected his businessman image and affected his family members, especially that a search was conducted at his son’s home, wherefrom legally possessed arms were taken.

Gheorghe Malic, the head of DCI of MIA has stated that Șoșev’s arrest was done according to the legislation in force, and so has the dismissal of the criminal case against the ex-MP.

Uncleared attempt

A case almost forgotten in Șoșev’s life dates back to 1999, when he was Member of Parliament. Back then, his family was the target of a bomb attempt. The explosive was placed above his apartment’s door and was supposed to explode when somebody opened the door from inside. In that morning, his wife was supposed to leave the apartment first. Șoșev felt the danger and pushed her as far as he could away from the door when the explosion unleashed and thus saved her life. They got light wounds. I asked him if the authors of that attempt had been identified. He said that the case was examined by the Security Service and was never solved. He says that the Security Service was not interested in elucidating the case, since the explosive was made and installed by qualified specialists, and they could be from nowhere but the Security Service.

Karamalak and the power

A also asked Șoșev about his relations with Grigore Karamalak, alias Bulgaru, who is also suspected of having participated in Dimitrov’s kidnapping. They have known each other for many years, Șoșev said. They used to be business partners and haven’t seen each other in a long time, due to the lack of time. But he knows that some persons from the current governance, including ambassadors, get in touch with him. In his opinion, Karamalak has been made the most feared criminal upon the order of some high officials. “He has been made a scarecrow on purpose so that the law-enforcement bodies have somebody to fight”, Șoșev believes.

From various sources, both official and from the prosecutor’s office we have found out that Karamalak was made a scarecrow when President Lucinschi was in office. According to 1997-1999 press, Karamalak was incriminated a series of robberies and thefts. API wrote in February of this year that Minister Papuc could bring Karamalak to Moldova in just one day, only if President Voronin wanted it. But probably then was not the right time yet. Papuc has been in a great dilemma before Voronin, especially after the elections in Chișinău failed, reason for which, as the sources say, Papuc risks to „dash” from his position.

Who ordered Dimitrov’s kidnapping and who executed it? Why was Șoșev first arrested and then released? Was the ex-MP involved or not in the DIT officer’s kidnapping? Did the courts that examined the case execute the order of some high officials? These are questions to which we do not have answers yet but we hope to find them during the investigations that do not end here.