Broken Rib Halts Bulgaria's 'Octopus' Mega Trial

Crime | February 8, 2013, Friday // 13:20|  views

Aleksei Petrov. File photo by BGNES

The court trial codenamed Octopus was placed on hold Friday for at least a month because one of the defendants has suffered a broken rib after slipping and falling in his bathroom.

Defendant and former Prosecutor Tseko Yordanov presented a doctor's note verifying the injury. The Sofia City Court rescheduled the trial for March 6.

The main defendant in the case is notorious Bulgarian businessman and former employee of the State Agency for National Security, DANS, Aleksei (Alexey) Petrov, who is tried on numerous counts for organized crime.

Walking out of the courthouse Thursday, Petrov declined commenting for the media the so-called Buddha case, implicating Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, in ties with organized crime in the 90s of the 20th century.

"I am the person on duty that must pick up the phone for everything bad that happens in the country. I already got used to this role and even began to reconcile with it. I cannot rule out the possibility Buddha could end up in my jail cell, for ties with gangs. I cannot comment further," said Petrov.

He also declined comments on the January 29 downtown Sofia shooting and wounding of convicted Bulgarian drug lord Zlatomir Ivanov AKA Baretata, even though Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, hinted of his involvement. Petrov explained he would say more only if summoned by the competent authorities.

Bulgaria's famous former rhythmic gymnastics coach, Neshka Robeva, was also subpoenaed as a witness in the case, but has failed to appear, citing professional commitments.

Her name became tangled in the trial after it emerged from testimony of main witness Georgi Tsvetanov that he got in touch with her through famous visual artist Svetlin Rusev. Robeva has given Tsvetanov a loan of USD 100 000 with 2% monthly interest.

Prof. Svetlin Rusev was present in the courtroom Friday.

On December 21, 2012, Aleksei Petrov was released on a bail of BGN 10 000.

The Sofia Court of Appeals took that decision a week after Sofia City Court released the alleged gang leader from detention to house arrest, citing Petrov's deteriorating health condition.

The court also decided that the prosecution's claim that if Petrov is released from arrest, he would influence witnesses lacks substantiation.

Aleksei Petrov was arrested in February 2010 in a much-publicized special operation by Bulgaria's police, codenamed Octopus.

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov and Minister of Interior Tsvetanov did much to portray Petrov as the mastermind of an extensive organized crime network.

The trial against Petrov has however dragged for months with little progress, and with the prosecution forced to drop part of the charges against him.

In the early 1990s, Petrov was a business partner of Borisov.

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Tags: Buddha, Sofia Court of Appeals, organized crime, house arrest, Sofia City Court, Octopus, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Petrov, Alexey, Aleksei, Boyko Borisov, DANS, Zlatomir Ivanov, Baretata, Svetlin Rusev, Neshka Robeva


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