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Suspect held over Bulgarian journalist’s murder

Updated October 11, 2018

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A woman places flowers around a makeshift memorial for television journalist Viktoria Marinova on Wednesday. — AP
A woman places flowers around a makeshift memorial for television journalist Viktoria Marinova on Wednesday. — AP

SOFIA: German police have arrested a man suspected of the rape and murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, Bulgarian officials said on Wednesday.

But Bulgarian prosecutors said that, at least for now, the killing does not appear linked to her work as a journalist.

The body of 30-year-old Marinova — who presented a current affairs talk programme called Detector for the small TVN television channel — was discovered on a riverside path in the northern Bulgarian town of Ruse on Saturday.

Authorities said she died from blows to the head and suffocation. She was also raped.

The Bulgarian suspect was picked up late Tuesday at the request of Bulgarian authorities, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told a news conference. “We have enough proof linking this person to the scene of the crime,” he said.

German police confirmed a 20-year-old man was arrested in the town of Stade near Hamburg on suspicion of raping, robbing and killing Marinova.

A German police statement said that the process of extraditing the man to Bulgaria had begun and that a request had been filed with the relevant regional court.

Such procedures under the European arrest warrant can take anything from a few days up to several weeks to complete.

Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov named the suspect as Severin Krasimirov, born in 1997, and said he was already sought in connection with another rape and murder.

“At this stage, we do not believe that the murder is linked” to Marinova’s work, Tsatsarov said. “But we are continuing to look at all hypotheses.” “The evidence that we have at this stage leads us to believe it was a spontaneous attack to sexually abuse the victim.”

The attack has shocked the country and drawn international condemnation amid speculation the murder could be linked to Marinova’s work as a journalist.

An episode of her programme aired on Sept 30 featured interviews with two investigative journalists from Bulgaria and Romania who had been working on corruption allegations.

But a number of experts in Bulgaria were more sceptical about a political motive, arguing that Marinova was not an investigative journalist and the way the killing was carried out did not fit in with such a scenario.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2018