Bulgarian Court Acquits Alleged Top Mafia BossesCrime | June 14, 2010, Monday // 14:44| views
Bulgaria's alleged top crime bosses, Krasimir (r) and Nikolay Marinov (l) aka The Marguin Brothers, received a non-guilty verdict after a 5-year long trial. Nikolay Marinov was tried in his absence. Photo by BGNES
The Sofia City Court issued Monday a non-guilty verdict for Krasimir and Nikolay Marinovi aka The Marguin Brothers.
Over a week ago, the prosecutor asked for a record-high verdict – 22 years behind bars for all 6 defendants, who are charged with plotting 3 murders. The minimum sentence for similar crimes is 15 years, but the verdict has been upped by 7 years – half of the minimum over the seriousness of the crime.
Krasimir Marinov aka the Big Marguin pleaded not guilty last Monday while Nikolay Marinov, the Little Marguin, is tried in his absence because he disappeared in January and his whereabouts remain unknown.
The Marguin Brothers together with Veselin Toshev, Stefan Rangelov, Ivo Karageorgiev, and Biser Iliev were charged with organizing a criminal group and plotting the murders of Nikola Damyanov, and Ivan Todorov, aka The Doctor (a large-scale mafia boss specialized at international cigarettes contraband), and of General Lyuben Gotsev (who survived the attempt on his life).
The case has been dragging on for nearly five years already and has been postponed on several occasions over the ailing health of one of the defendants, Ivo Georgiev. Meanwhile, Georgiev's brother, Svetlin, who was also tried in the same case, passed away.
The magistrates did, however, rule that there has been a criminal group dealing with the three murders for hire, but without evidence of a connection with The Marguin, and issued guilty verdicts for the other defendants.
Biser Iliev, Stefan Rangelov, and Veselin Toshev were fined while Iliev, Toshev and Ivo Karageorgiev received effective jail sentences of 2 years and 10 months, 3 years and 6 months and four years respectively. They remain free on bail until the verdicts become effective
The Court also changed The Marguin bail to recognizance and lifted the European search warrant for The Little Marguin, Nikolay Marinov, who disappeared right after the murder of controversial radio host, Bobi Tsankov. (Tsankov, who was known for his ties with the mafia and was writing a book about the underground, was gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Sofia on January 5th.)
If The Little Marguin shows up after the Monday rule, he must be arrested on charges of plotting Tsankov's murder. Krasimir Marinov The Big Marguin was arrested at the time on those charges, but was later released over lack of enough evidence.
After the verdict, the Sofia City Prosecutor, Nikolay Kokinov, and his Deputy, Roman Vassilev, who represented the State, said they will appeal.
“We lost just one battle, but not the war. Today is the Marguin's one lucky day,” Kokinov said, hinting about the probe in Tsankov's murder and another one against the brothers – for illegal drug trafficking.
People close to the case, wishing to remain anonymous, say that one – the judge, Lada Paunova, has impeccable reputation, and two – the acquittal does not come as surprise since the Prosecutors failed to present any sound evidence linking The Marguin to the three murder plots.
Over the nearly five years of the trial, the magistrates heart numerous witnesses, including two of the three alleged victims – Gotsev and Damyanov, who was still alive in the beginning of the proceedings. Both testified they had no idea why The Marguin would want them dead. The lawyer for the third victim, Ivan Todorov, killed in February 2006, offered the same information.
Out of the entire line of witnesses only one talked about some possible connection between the brothers and the murder plots.
Earlier Monday, another team of magistrates from the Sofia City Court, changed Krasimir Marinov's permanent detention measure to house arrest over his ailing health and the need to undergo emergency surgery.
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