U-Turn Sentences in Bulgaria's Deadly Train Fire Case

Crime | September 21, 2012, Friday // 12:12|  views

Nine people died after two cars of the night train going from Sofia to the northeastern town of Kardam burst into flames in February 2008. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

The Appellate Court in the Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo ruled Friday on the tragic train fire case that killed nine people with reducing the sentences of two of the three defendants.

The Prosecution demanded maximum sentences (15 years) for ticket collector, Georgi Georgievand for Ivanka Kostadinova, head of the train, but magistrates exonerated them on some charges. Georgiev's sentence was reduced to 3 years behind bars (from 12) while Kostadinova was sentenced to 2.6 years, instead of the previous 8 years. The imprisonment for both was postponed by 4 years, meaning the sentence is suspended.

Georgi Ivanov, former Deputy Head of the Passengers' Travels Department at the Bulgarian State Railways, BDZ, who faced six years in prison for ordering a double lock of all doors of sleep cars, which prevented the passengers from leaving the train, was sentenced to 1.6 years behind bars, which is postponed for 3 years. Until now, however, Georgiev was exonerated twice.

All three, together with BDZ must pay compensations to the families of the victims in the amount of BGN 100 000.

The case can be appealed by the prosecution with the Supreme Court of Cassations (VKS).

In September 2011, the same VKS returned the Sofia-Kardam train fire case for retrial to the Veliko Tarnovo Appellate Court.

On February 29 2008, in the deadliest train accident since 1992, nine people were charred to death and nine more injured after two cars of the night train going from Sofia to the northeastern town of Kardam burst into flames minutes after midnight. One of the victims was the Director of the National Archaeology Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, BAS, Prof. Rasho Rashev.

Georgiev, Kostadinova, and Ivanov were summoned as defendants on charges of homicide through reckless imprudence.

VKS found that the Court of second instance has reached its conclusions on the basis of inconclusive or incomplete evidence.

The Pleven District Court sentenced Georgi Georgiev to 12 years of imprisonment, Ivanka Kostadinova to 8 years behind bars and declared Georgi Ivanov not guilty.

On March 2 2011, the Veliko Tarnovo Appellate Court reduced the prison terms of Georgiev and Kostadinova to 8 years and 6 months and 5 years, respectively. Ivanov was declared not-guilty.

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Tags: Veliko Tarnovo, Pleven, BDZ, kardam, sofia, District Court, train fire, Appellate Court, VKS, Supreme Court of Cassations, Prosecutor


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