Bulgaria’s new Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov has sided with the five anti-mafia policemen, who were sentenced to 82 years in jail for allegedly killing 38-year-old Angel Dimitrov, saying they did not act deliberately. He also said that he wouldn’t allow the five policemen to go to jail if that depended on him.
Angel Dimitrov AKA Chorata, was allegedly killed in November of 2005 by the Blagoevgrad police during a law enforcement operation entitled “Respect.” Dimitrov’s death was first presented as a heart attack but expertise showed that he had died due to blows to the head.
It is very difficult to assess the case from my position. There is a lot of contradictory evidence material, and one cannot speculate without having seen the whole documentation. However, the statement of Mr. Tsvetanov may be interpreted as a sign of political influence on the Supreme Cassation Court, and that is a problem. Time and again reports by the European Commission have stated that Bulgarian criminal justice is “subject to influence and interference”. Mr. Tsetanov should refrain from such statements that may hamper all other sincere efforts to reform the Bulgarian judiciary system.
Two events have further shaken my confidence in the Bulgarian judiciary system.
First, the case for the murder of Bulgarian student Stoyan Baltov was referred yesterday by the Sofia City Court back to the prosecution for further investigation because the rights of the defendants have been “breached”. One of the suspected killers, Vili Georgiev, was freed from jail and put under house arrest.
Stoyan Baltov was beaten to death in front of a disco club in December 2008. The students’ protests in January 2009 against this deplorable murder were brutally dispersed by police force. I happened to participate in the protests and my account of the events is available here.
In another move, the Bulgarian Supreme Judicial Council has given excellent marks for the professional attestation of Nelly Batanova – the judge that acquitted the murderers of Martin Borilski. Martin Borilski was a Bulgarian student in Paris who was killed there in 2001. The French authorities carried out an investigation and provided all materials to the Bulgarian prosecution.
However, two courts in Bulgaria consecutively found the murderers not guilty, including the court chamber under the presidency of Mrs. Batanova. Now the Paris Appellate Court has ordered a new trial to begin in France against the same suspects.
I fail to understand these developments.
France will initiate a parallel court trial of the case involving the infamous murder of Bulgarian Sorbonne student, Martin Borilski.
The French Appellate Court decided Friday to try in a Paris Penal Court the two main suspects – Bulgarian citizens, Georgi Zheliazkov and Stoyan Stoichkov.
The French trial is scheduled to start in the beginning of 2010.
This case has been going on in Bulgaria for six years now, and the two alleged killers, Georgi Zheliazkov and Stoyan Stoichkov, were acquitted by the first two Bulgarian instances – the Shumen District Court and the Veliko Turnovo Appellate Court. In March 2009, Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassations returned the “Borilski” murder case to the Appellate Court in the city of Veliko Tarnovo for retrial.
As somebody pointed out to me earlier last week, the parallel French trial is a de facto invocation of the safeguard clause pursuant to Art. 38 of the Act of Accession.