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Bulgaria: Interior Ministry Drafts New Criminal Laws

Sofia, 22 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Bulgaria's Interior Ministry announced today that it has drafted new criminal laws on racketeering and tax evasion. The amendments to the criminal code require approval from the country's newly elected parliament and government.

Interior Ministry secretary Atanas Atanasov said the proposals envision prison sentences of up to seven years for racketeering convictions. In cases involving violence, or where racketeering was ordered by an organized economic criminal group, the ministry wants prison sentences of five to 15 years.

Atanasov said a jail term of up to three years is envisioned for those convicted of evaded tax payments of more than two million leva (about $1,300).

The United Democratic Forces (ODS), an anti-communist coalition that won a majority in last Saturday's parliamentary elections, has made the fight against crime a top priority for the future government. Caretaker Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev is expected to keep his post in the new cabinet.