Bulgarian 'Octopus': Senior Officials Linked to Kingpin's Child Kidnap
Senior State officials are involved in the recent kidnapping of the daughter of alleged Bulgarian drug lord and in the shooting of top criminal Zlatomir Ivanov in downtown Sofia.
The statement was made Friday by notorious Bulgarian "businessman" and former employee of the State Agency for National Security, DANS, Aleksei Petrov, who was summoned by the Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, GDBOP, to be questioned in both cases.
He appeared, but has refused to talk, requesting to be interrogated in the presence of a team of prosecutors as this would guarantee lack of pressure and manipulations.
"I insist on meeting with and talking to people other than those who invited me here, because what I have to say pretains to them. In my opinion, in a strange way, the same senior State officials can be linked to both cases, but this must be proven," Petrov told reporters on his way out.
At the beginning of March, 10-year-old Lara, daughter of Bulgarian "cocaine king" Evelin Banev AKA Brendo, was abducted by masked gunmen in the affluent Sofia suburb of Boyana. A 36-year-old bodyguard was shot twice in the back. Her whereabouts remain unknown.
Banev is being held in prison in Milan, Italy, where he was extradited after his arrest in Bulgaria last spring in a special police operation codenamed "Cocaine Kings," and is coming to Bulgaria only for the court sessions of the local trial against him.
According to various reports, the abduction was a warning for him to keep silent in the Milan Court.
In January, notorious mobster Zlatomir Ivanov aka Baretata (The Beret) was shot in broad daylight in the vicinity of the main courthouse in the Bulgarian capital as he was going there for an appeals hearing in an illegal drugs distribution case against him.
Zlatomir Ivanov was arrested on February 7, 2009, after he turned himself in to DANS. He was charged with organizing and leading an organized crime group dealing with drug distribution and murders.
In 2012, Baretata was sentenced to 8 years of jail time.
On Friday, Petrov said he had talked to Brendo and has been collecting information and evidence in the Baretata shooting case. He explained he was doing it because former Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov had accused him of being involved in both cases.
"I can provide magistrates with concrete facts and circumstances that would explain why Brendo has been tightlipped in the Italian Court," Petrov said.
When asked how he was gathering the said evidence, he replied: "As a common citizen, who is able to collect, sort, and analyze."
"We must chose words very carefully when we talk about the abduction of this girl, because the risk is huge. So, I will not say anything further in order to not create additional danger, but as an expert I firmly reject the lead that people from South America are walking freely in our country, kidnapping children. This is insane," Petrov concluded.
In earlier statements, he has directly blamed Tsvetanov and former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov for the abduction.
Petrov is tried on numerous counts for organized crime.
He was arrested in February 2010 in a much-publicized special operation by Bulgaria's police, codenamed Octopus.
Borisov and 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.
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.
In the early 1990s, Petrov was a business partner of Borisov.
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