Mystery Surrounds Suicide of Bulgarian Murder Suspect

Crime | January 17, 2012, Tuesday // 12:19|  views

The apartment building in Pernik, where the suspect in the murder of a local teen, committed suicide in the presence of 5 policemen. Photo by BGNES

The suspect arrested for the murder of a teen girl in the western city of Pernik, near Bulgaria's capital Sofia, who committed suicide as police searched his home, had been beaten by the latter, and his fingers broken.

The news was reported Tuesday by the Bulgarian "Trud" (Labor) daily, citing relatives of the man – Stoycho Stoev AKA Chocho. His body was returned to them and they have buried him in the presence of a handful of people Sunday.

After his arrest in the murder of Miroslava Nikolova,17, also from Pernik, Chocho, was brought home by the police. As the latter searched the apartment, he, as he was in handcuffs, according to the police, got hold of a pistol and shot himself in the head. Amidst numerous reports about botched police work, and a number of theories as to what happened, it remains unclear where the suspect was hiding the gun and how the policemen let him kill himself in their presence.

If what the relatives say is true, there is no way Chocho, in or without handcuffs, could get a hold of a gun and kill himself. This explanation, however, contradicts the account of an eyewitness, cited by "Trud," who saw the detainee, visibly pale, but calm, and in good condition, enter the apartment building, escorted by policemen.

The police report about the handcuffs also remains unconfirmed – no eyewitness can state firmly that they saw Stoycho in them. Two newspaper criminal reporters, who were notified by their own sources, were in front of the suspect's house on the day of the search and the suicide. They saw the arrival of Chocho and the police, but cannot answer if he was in handcuffs over the fact he was wearing a puffy winter jacket.

Meanwhile, the largest private TV channel bTV reported that the man had taken the gun out of his personal safety vault.

According to earlier accounts, Chocho had the gun hidden in the bathroom, then in a closet, and some media even claimed that he took a pistol out of the holster of one of the five policemen.

bTV further informed that he managed to access the gun, which he legally owned, because there was no electric power inside the apartment and instead of watching him, the police were busy trying to restore it.

At the same time, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, stirred even more confusion, by telling the State TV, BNT, contrary to numerous earlier reports that this was the first search of the suspect's apartment, not the second one, stressing that if police came prior to the incident, they should have found and confiscated the gun.

The Minister firmly rejected the possibility that Chocho got hold of a police gun and shot himself with it. All five policemen have been tested for gunpowder on their fingers to find out if any of them opened fire on Stoychev, but the authorities have not made the results available to the public.

In the same interview, Tsvetanov said that Bulgarian policemen will be punished for their questionable behavior in the aftermath of the murder, explaining that "one or two" police officers will be disciplined for acting improperly towards the family of the victim.

Later during the day Monday, the Interior Ministry announced that disciplinary proceeding has been launched against the Head of the Pernik Unit of the Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, Hristo Zlatkov. The order has been signed by Tsvetanov, on grounds of information that the police officer has violated the Interior Ministry Act – behavior irreconcilable with the professional ethics code of police employees in the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of Nikolova.

Eleonora - the sister of Miroslava Nikolova, whose dead body was discovered last week, has complained that an employee of the local unit for combatting organized crime has told her to "grab a gun and go look for her alone."

Monday evening, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, Tsvetanov, the Head of the Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, GDBOP, Stanimir Florov, and the Chief of the Pernik Police, Valentin Dimitrov, met with Eleonora, who confirmed that Zlatkov had been very rude to her. His colleagues, however, defend him, saying he was keeping secrets from the sister in order to not tamper with the investigation.

In the interview, the Interior Minister further criticized the Bulgarian judicial system for not keeping behind bars the other key suspect for the recent murder, 25-year-old Mario Lyubenov.

Mario Lyubenov was reportedly a classmate of Borislav – boyfriend of Miroslava's sister, Eleonora. The girl was kidnapped because Borislav recently inherited a large amount of money and the perps planned to ask him for ransom. They told police they killed Miroslava because they had no means to take care of her. According to Tsvetanov, Mario had a criminal record over counterfeit money and making threats.

On Sunday and Monday, residents of Bulgaria's of Pernik staged a protest with demands for justice and punishment of the perpetrators of the murder.

The parents of the girl, her classmates, friends, mothers of other murdered children, gathered in front of the police precinct building in the city, saying they harbored strong doubts that the killers will be punished.

At the Sunday rally, the mother of the murdered teen demanded a five-member psychiatry expert panel to examine Mario, saying she did not believe in his schizophrenia diagnosis and that anyone can get a piece of paper, after paying accordingly. Mario is currently listed in a psychiatry ward in Sofia – the so-called "4th Kilometer" hospital.

The Pernik psychiatry expert, who works for the local Court, Robert Krumov, firmly rejected Mario's schizophrenia diagnosis, and said he was simulating.

During the Monday rally, about 200, mostly young people, gathered in Pernik. A group of local football fans had been the most vocal one, shouting slogans like "Borisov Must Die," "The Cop Must Die," etc.

The teenager disappeared on November 7, 2011 and was missing ever since. On the fatal day, the girl went to her regular taekwondo training and never went back home. Friends said she was in good spirits while in the sports hall and there were no signs of the tragedy that unfolded later on.

Borisov's controversial remarks on the murder case stirred criticism in the Bulgarian media and in social networks towards the end of the last week.

Authorities suspected the girl may have run away from home or had been trafficked aboard as a white slave. Some assumed that she may have fallen in love with someone who is part of a scheme for human trafficking and voluntarily fled the country - speculations her sister has dismissed as "ridiculous".

Miroslava left her home without documents or money.

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Tags: diagnosis, schizophrenia, Miroslava Nikolova, dead, Murder, missing, Pernik, parents, protest, Head of the Pernik Unit of the Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, murder case, police, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, diagnosis, schizophrenia, Miroslava Nikolova, dead, Murder, missing, Pernik, parents, protest, Mario Lyubenov, The Rabbit, GDBOP, Stanimir Florov, suicide, psychiatrist, Robert Krumov


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