Elected Official Kills Romani Man in Elin Pelin, Bulgaria

12 October 1996

The Human Rights Project (Sofia) announced that during the night of August 10, 1996, 24-year-old Valentin Gheorghiev and his brother Lyubomir Gheorghiev, Roma from the town of Elin Pelin in the Sofia District, went to steal galvanized iron sheets from the yard of a private estate owned by Petar Savov, chair of the Municipal Council of the town. According to Lyubomir's testimony, while they were trying to take away the iron sheets, Petar Savov rushed out, crying „Dirty Gypsies, I'll kill you all," and shot several times in the air. While the brothers were running away, already outside the yard, Petar Savov followed and continued shooting in their direction. Valentin Gheorghiev was shot and he died on the spot. The Deputy Chief of the Regional Police Department of Elin Pelin told The Human Rights Project that after the incident, police had arrived at the spot, detained the killer for interrogation and then later released him. Petar Savov remains chair of the Municipal Council.

The ERRC data banks show that stealing metal and metal parts, including telephone wire and other copper wiring, is a very typical offense committed by unemployed Roma in Bulgaria. This is an offense committed by impoverished Roma who intend to resell the metals to secondary processing companies. It is made possible only by a more widespread, non-Romani criminal network. Within this network, Roma perform the task only of pulling hot coals from the fire. Attempting to steal metal frequently ends in death or serious firearm injury for the Roma.


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