Witness Links Bulgaria's Octopus and Impudent OC Cases
Plamen Ustinov, former employee of Bulgaria's National Security Services, NSO, testified in Court Monday that Alexey Petrov had assigned him to murder Litex CEO, Grisha Ganchev.
Ganchev is a petrol businessman and owner of Litex football club. In recent days, Bulgaria launched the mass production of cars under the Chinese Great Wall badge by Ganchev's Litex Motors near the northern city of Lovech.
Petrov – a former employee of the State Agency for National Security, DANS, murky businessman and alleged crime boss, together with five other people, is facing charges of racketeering and extortion in another case. He was arrested on February 10 2010, in a special operation codenamed "Octopus."
Ustinov was called to the witness stand in the high-profile organized crime trial codenamed "The Impudent." He said he was going to be paid EUR 170 000 to murder Ganchev, but declined the offer and warned the latter about Petrov's plans.
During the conversation "the Octopus" had also mentioned the possibility of kidnapping someone close to Ganchev. Ustinov said he presumed this person was Angel Bonchev – one of the victims of The Impudent.
The witness further voiced conviction that he was forced to leave NSO in 2008 because he had refused to fulfill Petrov's order.
The judge, however, declined attorney Iliyan Vasilev's request to interrogate Bonchev again on grounds Ustinov only presumed that Bonchev was kidnapped.
Svetlozar Kostov, leading prosecutor in the "Octopus" case, was present in the Courtroom for this particular testimony.
The Bulgarian elite were terrorized for about 2 years by the kidnappers back in 2008-2009, who are believed to have made several million euros from the ransoms.
The high-profile criminal case followed a special police operation entitled "The Impudent", cracking down on the alleged gang which had kidnapped important businessmen and/or their relatives. The operation was carried out in Sofia and in the cities of Veliko Tarnovo and Montana.
A total of 27 people were detained by the police on December 18, 2009.The special operation was conducted jointly by the Interior Ministry, the State National Security Agency DANS and the Prosecutor's Office. At the time, the Interior Ministry announced all had long rap sheets, including robberies and murders.
Among the 9 accused in the trial, Ivaylo Evtimov AKA Yozhi, and Prokopi Prokopiev AKA The Bodybuilder, are charged with racket and with organizing a kidnap gang. Daniel Dimitrov AKA The Relay, Lyubomir Dimitrov AKA The Rower, brothers Radoslav and Mitko Lebeshevski, Pavel Petkov, Kiril Kirilov, and Tsvetozar Slavchev, are all charged as accomplices in a total of 11 high-profile abductions over the last years.
Many commentators in Bulgaria connect notorious Alexey Petrov to The Impudent, though such link remains unproven. During interrogations, several gang members had been afraid to mention Petrov's name. The Rower, when asked who is the kidnap's gang mastermind and the detainee had replied: "He is not just an ordinary tug."
In September, the Sofia City Court started the civil trial of businessman, Angel Bonchev, and his wife Kameliya against the breast cancer foundation Tomorrow for Everyone. Angel Bonchev and his wife, Kameliya, were both abducted for ransom in 2008, allegedly by "The Impudent."
One day before Kameliya Boncheva was released, her husband announced he is donating the sum of EUR 157 000 to the Tomorrow for Everyone Foundation. The family insists they were forced to donate the money.
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