Gunmen kill investigative journalist Financial_Times - 2010/1/5
A Bulgarian investigative journalist and radio presenter who wrote about the country’s powerful organised crime groups was shot dead on Tuesday in the centre of Sofia, the interior ministry said.
Bobi Tsankov was shot in the back in the entrance to an office building in the first gangland killing since a new centre-right government came to power last June pledging a crackdown on mafia activity.
Mr Tsankov’s two bodyguards were wounded in the shooting, which took place at midday in a crowded street. The attackers escaped, the interior ministry said.
The killing has refocused attention on Bulgaria’s continuing failure to tackle organised crime and bring mafia bosses to justice.
None of the investigations into more than 150 gangland assassinations over the past decade has resulted in a conviction, according to analysts at the Center for the Study of Democracy,a Sofia think-tank.
In Brussels, the European Commission denounced the killing.
“Shootings continue to be a problem that needs to be urgently addressed in Bulgaria,” the Commission said.
“Any shooting is unacceptable and we hope that Bulgarian authorities will bring those that have perpetrated this act to justice as quickly as possible.”
Police on Tuesday arrested two prominent underworld figures known as the Marguin Brothers for questioning over Mr Tsankov’s killing, the Sofia prosecutor’s office said.
Mr Tsankov had received death threats after extracts from a new book on recent kidnappings of Bulgarian businessmen were serialised in a tabloid weekly, according to Bulgarian media reports.
Bulgaria’s mafia groups, led by former security service officers, emerged during the 1990s as the country became a international hub for trafficking in people, drugs and weapons.
A spate of gangland killings in the run-up to the country’s accession to the European Union three years ago was the result of attempts by organised crime bosses to eliminate commercial rivals as they moved into legitimate businesses, according to analysts at the CSD.
The government of Boyko Borissov, prime minister, and a senior police officer before he entered politics, has launched investigations into connections between organised crime groups and senior politicians under the previous Socialist-led administration.
Last month police arrested more than 20 alleged members of kidnapping gangs.
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Author: Nikolay Petrov