Two Romani Youths Killed by Non-Roma in Bulgaria
10 May 2003
Sixteen-year-old Georgy Ivanov Simeonov, a Romani youth, was fatally shot by Mr Vassil Ivanov, a 67-year-old retired military officer, on January 23, 2003, in Devichkovo, a suburb of Sliven in central eastern Bulgaria, according to ERRC interviews with Ms M.D. and S.S., relatives of Georgy Simeonov. Ms M.D. and Ms S.S. learned of the incident from a 13-year-old Romani boy known as "Shuilo", who was present at the scene at the time of the incident. Ms M.D. and Ms S.S. testified that, at around 1:30 PM on January 23, nine Romani youths and Mr Vassil Kaynov, a 32-year-old Romani man from the Nadezhda Romani district of Sliven, went in three carts to Devichkovo to collect scrap metal and wood for heating. The group allegedly broke into the home neighbouring Mr Ivanov's and found rolls of wire netting in storage downstairs. Georgy Simeonov and "Shuilo" were reportedly taking the rolls out of the storage area while the rest of the group waited at the carts. According to Ms M.D. and Ms Simeonova, at this point, Mr Ivanov appeared from a neighbouring house carrying a gun and immediately began shooting and cursing at the group. Georgy Simeonov sustained two gunshot wounds; one in the head and one in the throat, and fell to the ground beside the house. Ms M.D. stated that "Shuilo" informed her that he then tried to help Georgy, but Georgy showed no sign of life and was not breathing. According to Ms M.D. and Ms Simeonova, "Shuilo" and the others escaped on the carts while Mr Ivanov continued shooting. According to the Sofia-based non-governmental organisation Human Rights Project (HRP), the organisation providing legal representation in the case, a second Romani youth, 12-year-old Zhivka, also sustained a gunshot wound during the incident. Ms M.D. and Ms S.S. testified that "Shuilo" had informed them that at around noon on January 24, 2003, the group returned to the scene to find Georgy. The group reportedly found Georgy's body about three hundred metres away from the house, burnt and facedown in an empty water barrel. According to the Bulgarian national daily newspaper Standard of January 26, 2003, Mr Ivanov doused Georgy's body in gasoline and lit it on fire. Ms M.D. and Ms S.S. stated that the group brought Georgy's body to the hospital and called the police, after which the police brought the body to a morgue. The police apprehended Mr Ivanov shortly thereafter. According to the HRP, Mr Ivanov was charged with qualified murder with intent, in accordance with Article 116 of the Bulgarian Criminal Code. On February 6, 2003, the Bulgarian national daily newspaper Trud reported that Mr Ivanov had been released on 1,000 Bulgarian levs (approximately 515 Euro) bail after having been in custody for approximately two weeks.
In another case, on October 7, 2002, at around 10:00 AM, Zheko Toshkov Georgiev, a 14-year-old Romani boy, was fatally shot by an ethnic Bulgarian, Mr I.H., in Pleven, northern Bulgaria, according to the Pleven-based Romani organisation Amala-R. Mr Slavcho Nikolov, a 27-year-old Romani man, reportedly sustained a gunshot wound during the same incident. Zheko Georgiev and Mr Nikolov, together with Zheko's brother Todor Georgiev, reportedly entered the yard of a house in the suburbs of Pleven and stole wood from the balcony. They then broke in and stole a table and chairs. As they were taking the last pieces of wood out, Mr I.H. appeared with a gun and threatened that he would kill them. Amala-R reported that Mr I.H. immediately began shooting his gun. Mr Nikolov found a place to hide and Mr I.H. shot Zheko Georgiev. At this point, Mr I.H. reportedly turned his gun on Mr Nikolov and shot at him, hitting him as well. In the meanwhile, Todor Georgiev helped Zheko down the stairs and to the gate of the house, at which time, Mr I.H. noticed them and aimed his gun at them, threatening to shoot Todor Georgiev, according to Amala-R. Mr Asen Todorov Georgiev, a man from the neighbourhood, arrived at this point and told Mr I.H. to stop. Amala-R reported that Mr I.H. told Mr Asen Georgiev to take them away or he would kill them all and Mr Asen Georgiev then brought the three into the city. According to Amala-R, on the same day, Zheko Georgiev died on his way to the hospital as a result of the gunshot wound he sustained. As of January 7, 2003, the ERRC had been informed that the case had been filed with the Pleven local court and there was an ongoing investigation in the case. No charges had been brought against Mr I.H. as of March 18, 2003. Further information on violent actions against Roma in Bulgaria is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org.
(Amala-R, ERRC, HRP, Standard, Trud)
In other news, ERRC field investigation revealed that a group of Roma were beaten by a group of ethnic Bulgarians outside of a café in the Kutsiyan Romani district in Pernik, western Bulgaria, at around 11:00 PM on October 19, 2002. On October 23, 2002, Mr Alexander Ivanov Iliev, a 54-year-old Romani man, testified to the ERRC that, at around 10:30 PM, two ethnic Bulgarian men sitting in a car outside the café, one of whom he knew as "Gosho", asked him where they could find some Romani musicians. Mr Iliev reportedly told the two men that there were no musicians available after briefly asking around inside the café. According to Mr Iliev, "Gosho", who had gotten out of his car, swore at him and hit him repeatedly all over his body, until he fell into the door of the café and lost consciousness for approximately fifteen minutes. Ms Nadka Marinova Lilova, a 52-year-old Romani woman, stated to the ERRC that she, her son, 34-year-old Mr Asen Ivanov Nikolov and his 4-year-old son, were in the café at the time of the incident. Ms Lilova stated that both men repeatedly kicked Mr Alexander Iliev all over his body after he had fallen to the ground until her son Asen, who recognised the men, intervened. Ms Lilova reported that the two men then left the café and she and her son decided to take her grandson home, as he was afraid and they lived only a few minutes walk from the café. According to Ms Lilova, when they reached the entrance to their apartment building, she saw three cars stop in front of the café carrying approximately fifteen men. Ms Lilova witnessed five of the men approach Mr Petar Zdravkov Blagoev, a 34-year-old Romani man, who was fixing his car on the street at the time. Mr Blagoev told the ERRC that he noticed the men get out of the cars but didn't pay any attention until one of the men hit him with a shovel. According to Mr Blagoev, four other men also began beating him, until one of the men, who recognised him, told the others to stop after about five minutes. Mr Blagoev reported to the ERRC that the men also damaged his car, breaking its windows and causing dents and scrapes to the body of the car. Ms Lilova stated that she took her grandson into their apartment and when she came back out, she witnessed a group of five men approach her son Asen, who was still outside, and beat him for around ten minutes. Ms Lilova told the ERRC that she shouted at the men to stop beating her son and one of the men grabbed a steel rod and beat her with it on her arms and legs, until she lost consciousness. When Ms Lilova recovered, the police had arrived and she reportedly saw that many Roma had been beaten. Mr Blagoev testified that, prior to the arrival of the police, he went to the nearby Romani neighbourhood to tell the inhabitants about what was happening. Mr Blagoev and a group of Roma from that neighbourhood returned to the scene of the incident, and, according to his statement, the group of ethnic Bulgarian assailants fired guns in the air, got back in their cars and left when they saw the group approaching.
On the same day, Mr Iliev, Mr Blagoev, Mr Nikolov and Ms Lilova were treated at the hospital in Pernik. According to their medical certificates, issued on October 21, 2002, Mr Iliev suffered bruising on his face and an injury on his upper lip. An X-ray revealed a broken bone on the left side of his chest. Mr Blagoev sustained bruising on his face and back and abrasions on his face. Mr Nikolov suffered bruising on his body and an abrasion on his face, and Ms Lilova sustained bruising all over her body and abrasions on her left arm. Mr Iliev, Mr Blagoev, Mr Nikolov and Ms Lilova filed complaints with the police and a police investigation was undertaken. Pernik police interrogated a number of suspects in the case, but no one was detained. Mr Marin Ivanov, the attorney of the Romani victims, told the ERRC on January 29, 2003, that the victims had withdrawn their complaints because they feared further violent acts if they pursued the case.