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None of the state institutions took responsibility regarding the court case with the movie ‘The Expendables 2’ filmed in the Devetaki Cave

None of the state institutions took responsibility regarding the court case with the movie ‘The Expendables 2’ filmed in the Devetaki Cave

29.11.2011
Taking into consideration the signals from citizens and speleologist from the Lovech and Pleven regions, in the beginning of November Green Balkans NGO sent signals about the violations to the Ministry of Environment and Waters, the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Pleven, the Administrative Court and Regional Prosecutors’ Office in Pleven.

What the Bulgarian institutions did NOT do to resolve the problem…

Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Pleven (RIEW Pleven)

As we had already written in our previous notifications to the media – the very Letter for coherence of the activities in the cave was issued by the inspectorate despite the obvious contradiction with the Order for designation of the protected territory.
Still, let’s see what RIEW did…
As a response to the signals, RIEW Pleven made a check-up on 14.11.2011 г. of its own illegal coherence of the film activities and ascertained visible hewing to the green vegetation on the entrance of the cave for which a sanction was imposed on the Production. According to RIEW, this was the only violation on this day - no heavy technical equipment was driven into the cave, no building activities were made, the water in the cave was not polluted and the bats were not disturbed. All these facts, though, had actually happened for which evidence was provided by private photographers and the check-up of the Bat Research And Conservation Centre.

The fact that the Production blocked the access to the protected area was also omitted by RIEW, despite the clear prohibition of such actions under Article 14 of The Protected Areas Act.
After reviewing the documents regarding the written Letter for coherence of the activities of RIEW Pleven (provided to us in the course of proceedings), it became clear that with the original letter from September 2011of RIEW has failed to provide instructions for the filming process and for building of the filming equipment, contrary to what the Director of RIEW used to claim (even should we choose to neglect the fact that those instructions were in controversy with The Protected Areas Act), RIEW has not fully complied with its obligations under the law of strict regulations, mentioning only that any activities should not be performed in the dark parts of the cave, which is an extremely broad qualification open to interpretation by inspections.

On 16.11.2011 after Green Balkans NGO and The Bat Research And Conservation Centre – BAS propagated the press list regarding this case and as a result of the subsequent media response, RIEW Pleven has supplemented its Letter for coherence and has added annexes, providing special regulations for every regime of the protected territory.
‘We cannot realize why during the on-site check-up RIEW did not notice the obvious violations of the regime of the protected territory and two days later added to its Letter for coherence the prohibition of such activities in the cave’, says Dobromir Dobrinov from Green Balkans NGO.

It becomes clear that such an activity is only dust in the eyes of the society, because the employees of RIEW are aware that they should not issue any regulations contradicting the Order for Designation of the protected territory. Therefore, the Letter for coherence and its annexes are groundless and the only purpose of this amendment is to demonstrate the engagement of RIEW to implement any control activities.

Ministry of Environment and Waters (MOEW)
Green Balkans NGO submitted a request to MOEW with respect to the Access to Information Act to provide documents regarding the construction of the bridge near the cave. The legal 14 -days period for submitting the information expired and neither information, nor denial for its submitting was provided. Green Balkans NGO will take the legal actions necessary and will appeal against the coordination in legal form.

Regional Directorate for National Construction Supervision (RDNCS)
A signal was submitted to the RDNCS – Lovech to verify whether there is a permission issued for the bridge to the cave to be built under the Law on the Spatial Planning (LSP) – however until now there has been no official response to the signal.
Prosecution Authority
There is no answer form the Prosecution authority either. The prosecution authority had to rule urgently before the activities in the cave had finished. The signal from Green Balkans was forwarded from the Regional prosecution authority – Pleven to the Regional prosecution authority – Lovech. Although all the photos and evidence, together with the Report on the impact on bats by experts from BAS were submitted to the Regional prosecution authority, no actions were undertaken for the suspension of the offences and the illegal damages to the protected territory.
Court
The actions of the judicature are arousing bewilderment. The complaint made from Green Balkans to the Administrative court – Lovech for suspension of the unjustified actions and of the inaction of RIEW Pleven, were forwarded to the Administrative court –Pleven, which forwarded it back to the Administrative court – Lovech!!!
On 23.11.2011 Administrative court – Lovech submitted complaint to the Supreme Administrative court to judge which of the two courts – in Lovech or Pleven is responsible to consider the complaint. As a consequence of this tossing of the ball the SAC may judge on who was responsible and to terminate the legal proceedings because the filming of the movie has already been finished and the actions (or inactions, for that matter) RIEW took will be in the past.
There has been a possible resolution to the problem because the Administrative court – Lovech in the presence of the ‘unjustified’ actions and ‘inaction’ of RIEW Pleven could have divided the legal proceedings from the beginning and each of them to be considered separately from the respective Administrative court.

After the Administrative court in Pleven considered one of the two complaints regarding the ’unjustified inaction’ of RIEW it ruled that there is no ‘inaction’ because RIEW explicitly gave permission for the filming process (doesn’t matter whether the permission is legal or not, it is not considered “inaction”)
Appeal by nullity and voidability of the Letter for coherence of RIEW Pleven is also unnecessary because by the time the court judges the filming of the movie will already be finished…

It turned out that the judicature is unable to make judicial control. If a competent authority decides not to comply with a law that is typewritten on a sheet of paper obviously nobody can stop it.
Why are there protected territories at all, when the authorities responsible for their management readily forget about their responsibilities, not mentioning that they have the money of the taxpayers to account for?
‘Are the “Expendables” beyond Bulgarian legislation?’ was the question in our first press list and this press list gives clear answer to this question.

For more information about this case and for the legal actions undertaken:
Dobromir Dobrinov – Green Balkans – Tel. 0884004667, е-mail: ddobrinov@greenbalkans.org