Bulgaria's Roma Tsar Gets 3.5-Year Sentence for Death Threats

Crime | January 23, 2012, Monday // 20:01
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's Roma Tsar Gets 3.5-Year Sentence for Death Threats Notorious Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, has been sentenced to 3.5 years in jail over death threats. Photo by BGNES

Notorious Bulgarian Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, has been sentenced to 3.5 years in jail for making death threats against two locals from his native village of Katunitsa located near Plovdiv.

Rashkov was found guilty by the court in the southern Bulgarian town of Asenovgrad on Monday of threatening to kill Veselin Hristov and Ivanka Petrova.

Hristov and Petrova claimed Rashkov threatened them before their home by gesturing to demonstrate his readiness to grab a knife from his belt.

The court verdict is based on the testimonies of 12 witnesses, and CCTV footage which has no sound but shows a man in a black jeep parked before the home of Hristova and Petrov gesturing angrily.

Rashkov, a notorious Roma barron, has been detained since the end of September 2011 when his associates ran over and killed a local ethnic Bulgarian boy in the village of Katunitsa near the city of Plovdiv. 19-year-old Angel Petrov is believed to have been killed because of a conflict with Rashkov's Roma clan.

The murder threatened to detonate ethnic peace in Bulgaria as thousands, many of them nationalist demonstrators, marched for a week in October in Bulgarian cities to protest what they see as a "privileged position" of the Roma in Bulgaria, saying that the Bulgarian institutions are unable to cope with clan-based crime.

Many have alerted to the fact that the riches of Rashkov's clan have come from producing fake alcohol for decades without any crackdown by the authorities.

As residents of Roma quarters resorted to arming themselves, only the Bulgarian riot police and gendarmerie prevented ethnic-based clashes, and the demonstrations subsequently died down but the issues that spurred remain unresolved.

Locals from the Katunitsa village waiting to hear Rashkov's sentence in Asenovgrad on Monday commented that they are satisfied with the verdict but that it will not compensate for the fear and pain they have suffered, claiming that Rashkov and especially his grandsons have been terrorizing and intimidating the entire village.

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Tags: Katunitsa, Roma, Roma Boss, Tsar Kiro, Kiril Rashkov, Angel Petrov, death threats, Asenovgrad, Plovdiv, ethnic tensions
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