Mayor Administers Vigilante Justice in Galiche, Bulgaria

12 October 1996

On August 24, 1996, Oleg Krassimirov Khristov, a Romani man from the village of Galiche in the Montana District of Bulgaria, was cruelly beaten by the mayor of the town, Mr. Tsenko Chokov, in the mayor's office. In a statement to The Human Rights Project (Sofia), Mr. Khristov alleged that in the presence of the guard and the local policeman from the Regional Police Department of Byala Slatina, the mayor accused him of stealing corn and then beat him with a 1-meter-long iron pipe. The victim claimed that the mayor hit him repeatedly on his head and body while threatening him and addressing him in offensive language. The mayor was apparently acting upon information from a local guard who had seen Mr. Khristov picking several sunflowers in a field.

As a result of the beating, Mr. Khristov sustained lacerations on his right hand, two broken ribs and hemorrhaging on his left thigh and on the left half of the face. On the following day the victim was refused a forensic certificate at the hospital in Byala Slatina. He finally received a written medical statement from the hospital in the town of Oryahovo, in the district of Montana.

On September 16, 1996, Oleg Khristov was again summoned to the mayor's office. During this second visit, Mayor Chokov demanded to know if Mr. Khristov had filed a complaint about the incident and then threatened to turn Mr. Khristov over to the mafia. After this second meeting, the local policeman advised Oleg to leave the village temporarily for the sake of his own safety. The victim has since moved to another town.


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