Bulgarian PM: Police Failed to Prevent Ethnic ClashesDomestic | September 25, 2011, Sunday // 16:20| views
Riot police are pictured cordoning off properties of Roma boss Kiril Rashkov in the village of Katunitsa Saturday night, after some 200 soccer hooligans stormed Rashkov's houses and set them on fire. Photo by BGNES
The police are to blame for failing to prevent the clashes in the village of Katunitsa near Plovdiv in the past couple of days which threaten to escalate into an ethnic conflict, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov declared.
"The police let the situation slip out of hand," the PM said regarding the clashes in Katunitsa near Plovdiv, which ensued after Friday night a mini-bus with ethnic Roma close to local Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, ran over and killed a 19-year-old ethnic Bulgarian boy.
Amidst the protests of the locals, who complained Tsar Kiro's clan had been terrorizing him, football hooligans from Plovdiv stormed and torched the Roma boss's properties, while the police evacuated Rashkov's family.
Speaking on Sunday, Borisov also vowed that all those responsible for the ethnic clashes will be punished, as cited by BTA.
Even though late Saturday night – as some 200 football hooligans flocked to Katunitsa from Plovdiv and torched Tsar Kiro's properties – the police and gendarmerie adopted a hands-off policy, allegedly in order to prevent further clashes with casualties, they subsequently busted 127 people, and started 28 criminal procedures for hooliganism.
At the same time, the authorities started an inspection into the business activities and properties of Roma boss Tsar Kiro. The locals have complained for years that Kiril Rashkov and his clan have been terrorizing them while enjoying privileged treatment by the authorities.
Bulgarian PM Borisov, however, denied claims that the police have been protecting the Rashkov clan. He reiterated the statement of his party GERB denying that Rashkov was a GERB member.
Borisov further said that if Rashkov is enjoying political protection, this will be revealed during the inspection of the Prosecutor's Office.
Speaking earlier on Sunday, however, senior police officials have defended the tactics used by the police forces on the ground.
Dimitar Georgiev, Deputy Interior Secretary, has defined the actions of the local police forces late Saturday as "right" because they prevented the escalation of the clashes and potential new casualties.
He said the football hooligans from Plovdiv organized their trip to the village of Katunitsa via social networks online.
"The police treated everyone equally, without favoring anybody on ethnic or social grounds," Georgiev commented.
Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry Kalin Georgiev promised the police will crack down on any disturbance of the public order.
"The Interior Ministry is protecting the public order in spite of the chants by the crowd in Katunitsa, asking, "Who are you protecting?", he stated.
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