ERRC Letter to the General Prosecutor of Bulgaria Ivan Tatarchev
04 September 1997
Honorable Mr. Tatarchev,
We are writing to you in connection with a matter of deepest concern to the European Roma Rights Center. According to information made available to the ERRC, the Bulgarian press reported that four teenagers had beaten and kicked to death a 41-year-old Romani woman named Nedka Tsoneva, in the town of Sliven in eastern Bulgaria on July 20, 1997. According to articles published in the Bulgarian dailies Kontinent, 24 chasa, Demokratsia and Standart on July 23, Mrs. Tsoneva was set upon by 16-year-old Miroslav Karapetkov, 15-year-old Hranimir Petkov, 14-year-old Kiril Bashev, and 12-year-old Margarit Petrov, and, according to Kontinent, "Cursing, they knocked her down and started kicking her in front of her son."
Independent investigation conducted since the publication of the aforementioned articles by the Sofia-based Human Rights Project indicates that Nedka Tsoneva, 41, was killed on July 20, 1997 near the Tank Unit in Sliven at approximately 4:30 p.m. She and her 12-year-old son were evidently stopped while passing a block of flats by four boys, age 10, 12, 14 and 16. The eldest boy first accused Nedka's son of having stolen his bicycle. The boys then assaulted Mrs. Tsoneva. According to the allegations of the son, who managed to escape and watched the attackers beating his mother from afar, all the four boys were inflicting blows on her but the eldest one was most violent. Mrs. Tsoneva evidently fell into a coma during the attack. She died the following day.
The police reportedly arrested the four boys but according to the press reports, released them after questioning. Miroslav Karapetkov allegedly stated that he had beaten Mrs. Tsoneva because of her ethnic origin. A subsequent article by 24 chasa, published on July 27, 1997, stated that the conclusion of the court medical examiner is that Nedka died as a result of her fall to the pavement, and not due to the kicks to which she had been subjected.
Honorable Mr. Tatarchev, we note that this is not our first communication with you; on December 3, 1996, the ERRC appealed to you to investigate the shooting death of an 18-year-old Romani woman named Petra Anguelova Stoyanova by a public guard in Rakovski, District Plovdiv, on September 12, 1996. To date, we have received no reply to our query from your office.
Honorable Mr. Tatarchev, the ERRC urges your office to investigate thoroughly the murder of Mrs. Nedka Tsoneva and to bring the perpetrators to justice. We note that four perpetrators were involved in the attack and we question any assertion that her wounds were caused by the sidewalk and not by four racist youths. We remain deeply concerned about the high level of racially-motivated violence in Bulgaria and urge that all incidences of violence against Roma be treated with gravity. The ERRC kindly requests that your office keep us informed of any developments in the case.