Bulgaria's deputy environment minister Krassimir Zhivkov has been arrested and charged for his alleged role in illegally importing harmful waste from Italy and burning it, prosecutors said Saturday.
Italian and Bulgarian authorities had been investigating two Bulgarian brothers operating in their countries. They own a recycling business and deal with dangerous waste such as batteries, lead and polyethylene.
"Deputy minister Krassimir Zhivkov pressured his subordinates to authorise the illegal trafficking of waste" from Italy, prosecutor Dolka Brezashka said, asking for him to be held in custody.
The imported waste was not recycled but illegally burnt.
During a raid on Friday on the home of the businessmen in the Bulgarian town of Rousse, the police found a list of names of media bosses and entrepreneurs who were assassinated in the 1990s. Sums running into millions of dollars were entered against some of the names.
Bulgarian media has been writing about the alleged illegal trafficking of waste for months.
Early this year, Sofia sent back 157 containers to Italy and the environment minister Neno Dimov was forced to resign before being charged and imprisoned for negligence.