18-Year-Old Romani Woman Shot Dead by Security Guard in Bulgaria
10 April 1997
The Human Rights Project reported that on September 12, 1996, 18-year-old Petra Anguelova Stoyanova was shot dead by a public guard in the railway station of the town of Rakovski, District Plovdiv.
On September 12, 1996, Petra Stoyanova, three other Roma women and approximately ten Roma children, all from the village of Belozem, district Plovdiv, were cleaning a railway wagon used for transportation of corn, at the railway station in the town of Rakovski. The merchant who had rented the wagon to transport the corn had also given his consent to the Roma to gather the corn which remained in the wagon after it had been unloaded.
The Roma finished their work and were leaving the wagon carrying a few sacks with corn, when they were approached by Mr. Vladimir Karaivanov, an employee of security firm SNEK, who had been hired to guard the railway station. Mr. Karaivanov began cursing and shouting at them. In spite of the fact that the merchant, who was nearby, expressly told the guard that the women had been gathering the corn with his permission, the guard took out his rifle, which was loaded with rubber bullets, and fired it twice. The first shot was aimed in the air, but Mr. Karaivnov's second shot was directed at the group of Roma, who were now running away. This second shot, fired from a distance of approximately 25 metres, hit Petra Stoyanova and knocked her down.
Mr. Karaivanov then rushed to the victim who was still lying on the ground and started striking her with the butt of his rifle. Petra Stoyanova managed to get back up onto her feet, break free and run. Mr. Karaivnov then shot her from a distance of approximately 25 meters, this time with real bullets. Petra Stoyanova died at the scene of the shooting.
Police and public guardian killings of Roma remain disturbingly common in Bulgaria. In February 1997 alone, the Human Rights Project reported three new incidents of police violence against Roma, which had resulted in two fatal shootings, one beating death, and one further shooting injury to Roma.
On December 3, 1996 the ERRC wrote a letter of concern to the Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor, calling for a detailed investigation of the unwarranted murder of Ms. Stoyanova. To date, this letter remains unanswered. In March 1997, the 19-year-old killer received a suspended sentence of two years and five months 3 imprisonment. Both parties to the case are appealing the sentence.
(ERRC, Human Rights Project)