Bulgarian Court Rules to Keep Katunitsa Murderer behind Bars

Crime | September 27, 2011, Tuesday // 16:36|  views

Properties of Roma boss Tsar Kiro in the Bulgarian village of Katunitsa, known as The Castle, were set on fire by protesting local ethnic Bulgarians. Photo by DarikNews

The Plovdiv Regional Court ruled Tuesday to keep under arrest the man who ran over and killed with his van 19-year-old Angel Petrov in the village of Katunitsa last Friday.

According to the magistrates, Simeon Yosifov, 55, from the Stolipinovo Roma district in the second largest Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, near Katunitsa, had purposely hit the young man. The incident happened at dusk, when there was still daylight, while the vehicle had its lights on. Four other individuals were in the van at the time.

The Court dismissed the objection of the defense counsel that the accident was unintentional on the grounds of witness accounts showing the opposite and contradicting Yosifov's claims he did not see Petrov and thought he had hit a dog.

"There is evidence from the questioning of eyewitness Tomov, who was in the vehicle at the time that the driver had been provoked by another passenger, who suddenly shouted to go ahead fast. Nevertheless, it was Yosifov, who veered the vehicle in the direction of the victim," the magistrates say in their motives.

The Court further rejected testimony of Tomov and the three other passengers identified as Mestov, Arif and Mehmed that there had been a threat of an attack on the van, noting extreme discrepancies in their accounts regarding where the threat came from and what it had exactly been. The fact that a statement of Mestov that one of the van's windows has been broken was not evidenced by the examination of the vehicle or by the other passengers is listed as just one example.

Testimony on what happened after the accident was also contradictory – Mehmed, Tomov, and Arif said that the driver went to the home of notorious Katunitsa Roma boss, Kiril Rashkov AKA Tsar Kiro to discuss the incident, while Mestov reported that the vehicle returned directly to Plovdiv.

Based on the above, the magistrates further ruled the accident a hit-and-run.

Currently, the investigation is declining to comment if Petrov's murder has been ordered, but two days before he died the young man had filed a claim with the Asenovgrad police that he had been threatened. The Prosecutor's Office is also not saying if Rashkov and Yosifov are relatives.

A day before the incident, the following threat had been published in the Facebook profile of one of Rashkov's grandsons: "The one who is my enemy should die in a traffic accident!"

Tensions in the Plovdiv Region and the entire country escalted after the murder in Katunitsa, which flared large-scale violence and protests in the village, culminating Saturday night in an attack on Rashkov's properties, allegedly staged by several hundred football fans.

In addition, more than 100 people in total were arrested by the police in a number Bulgarian cities after a wave of small-scale but vigorous rallies Monday night.

The protesters rallied against Angel Petrov' murder, but also because of the "Roma issue", i.e. what they see as a "privileged situation" of the Roma minority in Bulgaria.

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Tags: protest, Stolipinovo, vandalism, arson, Angel Petrov, violence, Kiril Rashkov, Tsar Kiro, police, violence, Roma, Plovdiv, Katunitsa, arrested, van, Roma, driver, Prosecutor's Office, manslaughter, Simeon Yosifov, Regional Court, magistrates, witnesses, testimony


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