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2-6 Human Rights: Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing


This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev radev@tune.cs.columbia.edu with numerous contributions by others.

2-6 Human Rights: Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom

There were several reports of police officers using unwarranted lethal
force against criminal suspects, as well as against members of minority
groups whether or not suspected of any crime, resulting in three deaths.
On February 11, a Rom was found dead in Gradets, near Sliven. A witness
told a human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) that a police
officer had beaten the victim in the village center the previous day,
and the deceased's family described numerous signs of severe beating.
An investigation is in progress.

During a March attempt to apprehend a man previously sentenced for
committing theft, a police officer in Nova Zagora allegedly beat an 18-
year-old Rom, then shot and killed the man's 22-year-old brother when
the older brother intervened. Neither of the victims was being sought
by the police. The alleged perpetrator, a police sergeant, has been
charged with murder resulting from excessive use of force in self-
defense. The investigation continues.

A 22-year-old male died in April while in police custody, apparently as
a result of beating. The deceased, an ethnic Bulgarian, had been
arrested for alleged complicity in a burglary. Six policemen were
arrested in this widely publicized case; one officer, a police
lieutenant, remains under investigation, and the national police
director resigned.

No progress was made in the case of a detainee who died while in police
custody following an August 1994 roundup of suspected criminals in
Pazardjik, although the Government's investigation remains open. There
was little progress in the September 1994 case of a detainee who died
one day after being taken into police custody in Pleven, and there were
no developments in the investigation of the 1993 incident in which
police allegedly beat three escaped prisoners (two of whom reportedly
died) upon recapture.

In November Amnesty International (AI) sent a letter to the Ministry of
Interior expressing concern about five incidents in which AI said that
police officers opened fire on suspects in violation of U.N. basic
principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement
officials. Interior Ministry data on serious police violations over the
18 months ending March 31 show 18 deaths due to police negligence, 59
cases of physical injury, more than 60 charges of serious offenses, and
58 convictions of police officers on these and lesser charges during the
period. The Minister of Interior publicly acknowledged that police
abuses occur and made a commitment to address the problem; a number of
cases are under investigation. However, the police have generally
refused the requests of human rights groups to make investigative
reports available to the public. The climate of impunity that the
Government allows to prevail is the single largest obstacle to ending
such abuses.


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