Investigation continues into fatal shooting of migrant in Bulgaria

Investigation continues into fatal shooting of migrant in Bulgaria

Sofia, October 16, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

An investigation is continuing into the fatal shooting of a migrant late on the night of October 15 in the Bulgarian town of Sredets after three Border Police encountered a group of 50 migrants who, police said, responded aggressively resulting in a warning shot being fired, which ricocheted and killed the migrant.

The group said that they were from Afghanistan but questioning was continuing to establish their identity.

Interior Ministry chief secretary Georgi Kostov told an early-morning news conference on October 16 that the officer who fired the shot was a member of the service with long service. As to the officer’s claim that the fatal shot was a result of a ricochet, this was still being investigated, Kostov said. The identity of the officer was not revealed.

The news conference was told by Kalina Chapkanova of the Bourgas Regional Prosecutor’s Office that no one had been taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

Chapkanova said that the officer’s pistol had been confiscated. Examination of the pistol’s clip had established that only one shot had been fired.

Kostov said that the incident had taken place at about 10pm. He said that the border patrol had responded to a signal from an “integrated system” which had registered an intrusion. Kostov declined to give details of the workings of the system so as not assist people-traffickers.

Kostov said that there was no evidence that the group of migrants was armed, but he underlined the proportion between the group of migrants, who he said had been acting aggressively, and the patrol – 54 to three.

“We are talking about 50 men aged between 20 and 30 years in good physical shape who resisted,” Kostov told the news conference.

The place where the incident took place is a heavily wooded area in rugged terrain.

“We should wait for the assessment by prosecutors and investigators and then we can draw conclusions. We should note that our officers at the border are put under strong migrant pressure,” Kostov said.

He said that there was a definite difference between those who crossed into Bulgaria illegally during the summer season, when many were of Syrian origin, and the current case.

Kostov said that the group may have been economic migrants, but this was yet to be established officially. Officers of the State Agency for National Security were taking part in the interrogation of the group, who currently were in Sredets, the town in the province of Bourgas near where the incident took place. After questioning, the group would be moved to the refugee accommodation centre in Elhovo.

Chapkanova said that after the shooting, the Prosecutor’s Office was informed and the examining magistrate on duty went to the scene. The Prosecutor-General, Sotir Tsatsarov, also had been informed about the case.

Apart from the pistol that was confiscated, authorities also took possession of the rucksack that had been worn by the man who was shot, as well as two mobile phones, Chapkanova said.

She said that two inspections of the site of the incident had been carried out and there probably would be a third.

Kostov told the news conference that currently there were 1200 people in the migrant centres in Bulgaria, of whom close to 900 were from Afghanistan.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, who was at the European Council meeting on October 15, was informed about the case soon after it happened. Borissov set out to return to Bulgaria immediately.