Bulgarian Sentenced to 27-Year Jail Term for Crime He Didn’t Commit
An 85-year-old Bulgarian man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison and a €53,000 fine for trafficking migrants into Greece. The absurdity of this case is that the man never set foot in our southern neighbor. The man was accused of transporting refugees in a truck he bought in Sweden. According to him and his relatives, the whole mystery lies in something very simple – the stolen ID card.
"At the market in Byala Slatina, my papers were stolen. I went to the police right away. I blocked my debit card. I made a photo for new ID documents. After a month and a half, I was called by a prosecutor and he told me that I have a registered truck in my name and I have smuggled migrants", sentenced Nikola Milchev told "Hello, Bulgaria" morning TV show.
"We received the first subpoena in 2016. We sent letters to all the institutions in the country and were told to hire a lawyer," said Iliana Kamenova, granddaughter of the victim.
"We have contacted the Vratsa Prosecutor's Office. My father gave testimony. They told him not to worry. There's no way with BGN 300 pension to pay for a lawyer. I don't wish anyone to go through such a shock. As soon as possible, we found a Bulgarian lawyer working in Greece. Days ago we won a case for the detention order", commented Nikola's daughter - Paulina Kamenova.
The case will essentially be heard in April.
Ombudsman Diana Kovacheva also commented on the case.
"This is a fraught and shocking case, but it is a systemic problem. It became clear that no one was insured against such a thing. I learnt about the case last autumn. We immediately referred the matter to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of foreign Affairs.
They informed us that the man's ID was immediately declared invalid. We also contacted the Consul General in Thessaloniki, who cooperated fully. Foreign Minister Ms. Ekaterina Zaharieva also responded. Before the verdict, we sent the necessary documents to the Greek authorities. This happened in September", explained Kovacheva adding that hopefully the man would be acquitted in April.
An absolutely innocent man may be convicted and it is a flagrant judicial error. The Bulgarian court will not allow the extradition of this man. However, the €53,000 fine will not be canceled by miracle. An expert group needs to be set up to analyse such cases," the Ombudsman concluded.
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