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BULGARIA

Bulgaria asks Sweden for info on Gripen fighter

Bulgaria's defence ministry said Wednesday it had requested information from Sweden on the potential supply of Gripen fighter jets for its air force.

Bulgaria asks Sweden for info on Gripen fighter

Information had also been requested from France, Germany and tyhe United States over the possible purchase of new of used fighters.

The letters, sent in January, requested from the four countries “information on their capabilities for logistical support, equipment, training, financial schemes, exploitation period, etc,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The request concerns the purchase of eight new or used multifunctional fighters,” it added.

The ministry however noted that “at this stage there is no clarity on the financial parameters of the project.”

No company names were mentioned in the statement but the newspaper Standart reported on Wednesday that Sofia was eyeing offers from major fighter jet producers like European defence giant EADS, Sweden’s Gripen and US Lockheed

Martin.

Sofia will develop the parameters of its investment project based on the information it receives from the four countries, before officially calling a tender for the fighters, expected at the beginning of 2012 at the earliest, according to the defence ministry.

The acquisition of new multipurpose fighters for Bulgaria’s air force had so far been delayed due to severe financial constraints.

A 2007 US document leaked by WikiLeaks and cited by Bulgarian media on

Wednesday revealed strong US pressure on Bulgaria not to acquire new fighters,

but to purchase second-hand US F-16 or F-18 aircraft instead.

In case Bulgaria decided to acquire new combat aircraft, “US manufacturers will, of course, be in this hunt,” the cable added.

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BULGARIA

Sweden jails Bulgarians for begging ring

Two Bulgarian brothers were jailed in Sweden Friday for "human trafficking" after exploiting poverty-stricken and disabled people in a begging scheme.

Sweden jails Bulgarians for begging ring
Beggars from Romania and Bulgaria have become a common sight on Sweden's streets. Photo:
The two men, aged 39 and 42, “recruited, housed and exploited” five people who were drawn into a life of begging on the streets of Gothenburg in southern Sweden.
   
The brothers received three-year and three-and-a-half-year prison sentences.
   
Their victims included a 69-year-old pensioner, an illiterate 21-year-old in a wheelchair, and a blind 62-year-old. All were lured into the deal by the promise of work in Sweden, but they did not touch the money they made from the
long days of begging.
   
The Swedish court estimates that the scheme brought the brothers more than 30,000 euros ($34,000) in five months — between June and October 2015.
   
Two others, a 31-year-old Macedonian who offered his apartment to house the victims, and a 32-year-old Bulgarian woman who helped with logistics of the setup, received lighter sentences of eight and six months in prison.
   
The Swedish government estimates that some 4,700 people, primarily from Romania and Bulgaria, have come to beg in Sweden under the EU's freedom of movement rules, with the numbers increasing sharply in the last five years.