Bulgarian Police Fatally Shoot a Romani Man

29 July 2004

According to the information cen-tre of the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs, between 3:00 and 4:00 AM on the morning of March 27, 2004, a police sergeant from the th Police Station in the city of Plovdiv fatally shot Mr K. Stoyanov, a 24-year-old Romani man. According to the Ministry, the fatal shooting happened when Mr Stoyanov tried to run away from two police sergeants at-tempting to conduct an ID check. One of the sergeants reportedly fired a warning shot in the air and they then chased Mr Stoyanov. When one of the sergeants caught Mr Stoyanov, Mr Stoyanov re-portedly pulled a knife on him. The sergeant grabbed for Mr Stoyanov's wrist and, according to the Ministry, Mr Stoyanov grabbed the sergeant's arm and a struggle ensued during which the gun was fired, killing Mr Stoyanov.

ERRC research, conducted in partnership with the Sofia-based non-governmental organisation Human Rights Project (HRP), calls into question the version of events put forth by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Mr M.J., Mr Stoyanov's guardian, informed the ERRC/HRP that when Mr Stoyanov left the house before the fatal incident, he was not carry-ing a weapon. Mr M.J. stated that Mr Stoyanov suffered from a drug addiction and left the house with the intent of purchasing drugs. When Mr Stoyanov did not return home, later that morning, his mother and Mr M.J. went to the police station in search of him. Officers reportedly instructed the family to bring a photo of Mr Stoyanov and his ID card with-out saying why. When they re-turned with the documents, they were sent to the morgue where Mr Stoyanov's guardian identified his body. According to the au-topsy report, the cause of death was a gunshot to the head in the vicinity of the right eye. The au-topsy confirmed the absence of drugs or alcohol in Mr Stoyanov's blood. As of June 11, 2004, a po-lice investigation into the fatal shooting of Mr Stoyanov was underway. The two police ser-geants have been suspended from duty pending the outcome of the investigation. Lawyers Hristina Nikolova and Emil Yoshev are providing legal representation in the case.



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