Judge Blunder Turns Bulgaria Crime Boss Trial into Farce

Crime | October 5, 2010, Tuesday // 18:20
Judge Blunder Turns Bulgaria Crime Boss Trial into Farce: Judge Blunder Turns Bulgaria Crime Boss Trial into Farce Bulgaria's top criminal boss Zlatomir Ivanov (r) is charged with setting up an organized criminal group trading illegal drugs and with premeditated murder. Photo by BGNES

The defense council of Bulgaria's alleged top crime boss Zlatomir Ivanov aka Baretata (The Barret) expressed Tuesday outrage by the way the judge in the case interrogated an anonymous witness.

The reason for the indignation is the fact that the prosecutor was allowed to be present during the testimony, which according to the attorneys violates the law.

The defense council, on their part, have not been called for the testimony in violation of the Penal Code since the prosecutor is also a side in the case.

Before the anonymous witness, the judge heart the testimony of two policemen, who were called on the stand with the expectations they would testify three of the defendants and Baretata's alleged accomplices have thrashed a man who refused to take part in the gang.

According to charges, the police officers witnessed the beating and the victim even asked them for help. The Interior Ministry employees, however, stated for the record they have never seen the defendants.

When attacked by the attorneys for allowing the prosecutor to sit for the interrogation of the anonymous witness, judge, Petar Gunchev, visibly embarrassed with a red face, attempted to joke saying: "What do you expect from the court," to which he received replies such as "nothing" and "we want this to apply to all anonymous witness testimony from now on," Bulgarian court reporters inform.

The prosecutor pointed out the Penal Code allowed her presence during interrogations and was immediately countered this applies only to preliminary legal proceedings not the trial, while Baretata shouted from the bench: "We are already in trial, what preliminary proceedings?"

The embarrassed judge called a recess for an undetermined period v time.

Legal experts say, in this case, the testimony must be stricken off the court records.

Baretata and 20 other individuals are charged with being part of an organized crime group dealing with illegal drug trading and murders for hire. Baretata, the alleged ringleader, is believed to be one of the top, still living, Bulgarian underworld figures.

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Tags: Zlatomir Ivanov, Baretata, Court of Appeals, Sofia City Court, illegal drug trafficking, Murder, anonymous witness, anonymous testimony, Prosecutor, penal code, penal code
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