Jurgen Roth: My Life Is in Danger in Bulgaria
Renowned German publicist Jurgen Roth has refused to come to Bulgaria for the first hearing of a slander trial against him, saying he fears for his life.
“There are two reasons why I didn't show up in court [on February 1]. First, I was given a too short notice. I couldn't board the plane for Bulgaria on the next day without a lawyer. Secondly, my safety in Sofia is not guaranteed. I still want to live,” Roth said in an interview for Deutsche Welle.
Bulgaria's former Interior Minister Rumen Petkov is suing the German investigative journalist over alleged slanders against him in his book about organized crime in Bulgaria, entitled "The new Demons”.
In the book Roth cites sources making scandalous statements that Petkov has relations to organized criminal networks and is involved in the production of synthetic drugs in Bulgaria.
According to high-level unnamed officials in the Interior, quoted by Roth, the former interior minister personally controls the trafficking of amphetamines from Bulgaria to Turkey and the Middle East, which was the practice of the Security Services during the communist regime.
Petkov is also said to have met with criminal figures involved in drug production.
"Mr Petkov was accused of being involved in trade with amphetamines, but no evidence has surfaced so far. Anyway there were suspicions that he has links to the mafia and that was the reason why he had to resign from his post. All I have written are presumptions, nothing else,” Roth said.
"Now he wants to make me feel responsible for his resignation.”
The complaint that Rumen Petkov submitted accuses Rumen Petkov of hurting his dignity and showing no respect for the country's justice system.
“A man who says that journalists have to be beaten up can't be trusted and has no dignity. I wonder whether a man, who says that I have been sponsored by Al Qaeda, is not insane in the first place,” Roth said.
“I am not afraid of the mafia, I am afraid of Petkov, because he is unpredictable and because for me he is an extremely dangerous politician, who has good connections where normal citizens fear to tread.”
The German journalist said his next book will deal with Bulgaria again and promised “it will get very interesting, indeed.”
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