Fate of Brazil-Jailed Bulgarian Champ Known in 40 Days

Crime | March 7, 2012, Wednesday // 08:11|  views

Bulgarian weightlifter and Olympic champion, Galabin Boevski, was arrested in Ocotber for cocaine posession in Brazil. Photo by BGNES

The verdict of Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting champion Galabin Boevski is going to be known in 40 days, it emerged during the first hearing of the trial against him in Brazil.

The hearing on charges of illegal drugs trafficking began at 8 pm EET on Tuesday.

The judge interrogated two witnesses – one for the defense - a female employee from the hotel where Boevski was accommodated with his daughter and one for the prosecution - a federal police officer, the private TV channel bTV informs.

Boevski also took the witness stand and reiterated his claims of innocence, stressing that there cannot be a mix between drugs and sports. According to his Brazilian lawyer, the verdict is expected after over a month, which is the normal deadline when the case is tried by one, not two judges, as usual.

Boevski, allegedly recruited as a mule to smuggle cocaine from Brazil to Western Europe, faces 15 years in jail if convicted of drug charges.

He was arrested on October 24th for possession of 9 kg of cocaine at the Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The drug was found hidden in special secret compartments inside his suitcase.

He was first sent to a temporary prison facility and a week later – to a special jail for foreigners.

The Brazilian attorney is stunned, according to Bulgarian press, because currently not a single evidence in the case can be found. The said suitcase had been broken to pieces to the extend no one can see even their label thus no one can prove Boevski's claim that he had purchased them from a local store.

"The situation is indeed strange. I cannot believe that this is the way to hold a case in any country," Boevski's Bulgarian lawyer, Ivaylo Dermendzhiev, says.

Unlike other Bulgarians held in Brazil on similar charges, the weightlifter fervently claims innocence.

At the end of 2011, the Director of Bulgaria's Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, GDBOP, Stanimir Florov, made a surprising revelation, saying the cocaine which was carried by Boevski, was intended to be distributed in Bulgaria.

According to operational information of the Interior Ministry, Boevski was supposed to be paid between EUR 250 000 and 300 000 for the delivery and was checked by airport security over the fact all Bulgarians are listed in the column "risk passengers" in Brazil, said Florov.

On December 20, a Brazilian judge ruled to keep the former champion in jail and rejected the defense request to let his client spend Christmas under house arrest. Another request for release under house arrest was denied at the end of February.

The defense is determined to press for Boevski's extradition and eventual trial in Bulgaria, citing the International Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which the two countries have signed and which has supremacy over state laws.

The lawyer's statement clashes with the opinion of Bulgarian senior officials, who have ruled out the extradition of Galabin Boevski to his home country, saying there is no prisoner transfer agreement between Bulgaria and Brazil.

The 36-year-old Boevski won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 152-pound category. He was banned for eight years by the International Weightlifting Federation for doping in 2004. He owns a chain of modern fitness facilities in the capital Sofia and has a number of other businesses.

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