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Bulgarian Prosecutors Bring Stiffer Charges in Vratsa Murder Case after Protests
Two men have been charged with the premeditated murder of 18-year old Todor Yordanov in Vratsa, in northwestern Bulgaria, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced on Thursday after the initial, more lenient charges unleashed a wave of discontent and protests against perceived inefficiency of law enforcement bodies in the country.
Ivan Damyanov, 32 and his brother Desislav Damyanov, 36, have beaten to death Todor Yordanov in the central part of the city around midday on Tuesday, police has said citing witnesses.
According to initial reports, Yordanov and Plamenov brothers didn’t know each other before the brawl started. The ire of the brothers was allegedly prompted by Yordanov blowing the horn of his car when they were crossing the street in front of him, witnesses have told police.
Yordanov stepped out of his car to see what was wrong and after a short quarrel with the two brothers they started beating him, Yordanov’s girlfriend, who was in the car at the time of the incident, told bTV broadcaster.
Prosecutors in Vratsa originally charged the two brothers with causing death by negligence after inflicting light bodily harm – a charge that caused public uproar in view of the severity of the crime and led to protest marches in Vratsa on Wednesday and Thursday. Protesters demanded maximum penalties for the murder of Yordanov.
A protest rally demanding a just punishment for the perpetrators was also held in central Sofia on Thursday evening.
Earlier on Thursday, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov dispatched a team of senior prosecutors to Vratsa to check the findings and conclusions of the initial phase of the investigation.
The Sofia prosecutors “have accepted as correct the charge of premeditated murder for reasons of hooliganism” based on new evidence collected in the course of the investigation, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement. The new charge is not final pending a secong autopsy and a coroner’s report.
The two brothers face jail terms of 15 years to life if convicted on the new charge. The original charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
The initial post-mortem examination has found that Yordanov died of suffocation when food stuck into his lungs during the beating. The medical experts have also found that he suffered multiple blows in the body and the back of his head.
Yordanov had already stopped breathing when the ambulance called by witnesses arrived at the crime scene, according to the paramedics’ report.
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