World Bulletin / News Desk
A lawmaker from Bulgaria's ruling GERB party has been arrested for taking bribes of more than 100,000 levs ($62,400), officials said on Wednesday, as the Balkan country tries to show it is addressing EU concerns over graft.
The European Union's newest and poorest member has been repeatedly criticised by Brussels for doing too little to cut widespread corruption and organised crime.
A failure to put senior officials and crime bosses behind bars is expected to lead to the European Commission extending its monitoring of the country's respect for the rule of law and fight against corruption when it issues a report on Bulgaria and Romania on Wednesday.
The lawmaker, Dimitar Avramov, and two other men were arrested after 50,000 levs changed hands in the north-western town of Montana late on Tuesday, police said.
The centre-right GERB sacked Avramov from the party and urged him to resign as a member of parliament.
"It is established that the deputy has received in total over 100,000 levs to exercise influence over officials from the state administration in the city of Montana about an agricultural land dispute," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Avramov was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
The dispute involved the use of land which is eligible for EU farm subsidies and thus highly sought after, Bulgaria's prosecutors' office said.
It said it would seek to lift Avramov's parliamentary immunity. "Dimitar Avramov has been arrested on suspicion of trading with influence," spokeswoman Stilyana Kozhuharova said . "He can be charged only when his immunity is lifted."Last Mod: 18 Temmuz 2012, 14:31