Brazil-Jailed Bulgarian Champ Gets 9 Years Behind Bars

Crime | May 3, 2012, Thursday // 16:37
Brazil-Jailed Bulgarian Champ Gets 9 Years Behind Bars: Brazil-Jailed Bulgarian Champ Gets 9 Years Behind Bars Bulgarian weightlifter and Olympic champion, Galabin Boevski, was arrested in October last year for cocaine posession in Brazil. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting champion Galabin Boevski has received an effective sentence of 9 years and 4 months of jail time from the Federal Court in Brazil.

Boevski, allegedly recruited as a mule to smuggle illegal drugs from Brazil to Western Europe, was arrested on October 24th 2011, for possession of 9 kg of cocaine at the Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The drug was found hidden in special secret compartments inside his suitcase.

The sentence is on first instance, according to the Brazilian justice system while the maximum punishment calls for 20 years behind bars. Boevski's Brazilian attorney, Leandro Pereira, told the Bulgarian TV channel TV7 that he will appeal the rule, which did not come as surprise since the judge, Maria Do Prado, is known as one of the strictest and harshest among the country's magistrates.

After the arrest, Boevski was first sent to a temporary prison facility and a week later – to a special jail for foreigners.

Unlike other Bulgarians held in Brazil on similar charges, the weightlifter fervently claims innocence.

At the end of 2011, the Director of Bulgaria's Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, GDBOP, Stanimir Florov, made a surprising revelation, saying the cocaine which was carried by Boevski, was intended to be distributed in Bulgaria.

According to operational information of the Interior Ministry, Boevski was supposed to be paid between EUR 250 000 and 300 000 for the delivery and was checked by airport security over the fact all Bulgarians are listed in the column "risk passengers" in Brazil, said Florov.

In December 2011, a Brazilian judge ruled to keep the former champion in jail and rejected the defense request to let his client spend Christmas under house arrest. Another request for release under house arrest was denied at the end of February.

The defense is determined to continue to press for Boevski's extradition and eventual trial in Bulgaria, citing the International Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which the two countries have signed and which has supremacy over state laws.

The lawyer's statement clashes with the opinion of Bulgarian senior officials, who have ruled out the extradition of Galabin Boevski to his home country, saying there is no prisoner transfer agreement between Bulgaria and Brazil.

The 36-year-old Boevski won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 152-pound category. He was banned for eight years by the International Weightlifting Federation for doping in 2004. He owns a chain of modern fitness facilities in the capital Sofia and has a number of other businesses.

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