Sofia City Court ruled on June 20 to allow the extradition of Evelin Banev, alias Brendo, on trial in Bulgaria for alleged money laundering and investigated for drug trafficking, to Italy, where he is also to stand trial on charges of drug trafficking.
Banev was arrested in May as part of a joint Bulgarian-Italian police operation that led to the arrest of a total 30 people, including 15 Bulgarians and 12 Italians. According to Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry, Banev was the head of an organised crime group that helped smuggle vast quantities of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.
Italian authorities have asked for an extradition period of one year, so that Banev is not tried in absentia, but he would also be flown into Bulgaria to attend court hearings in his Bulgarian money-laundering case.
Banev’s lawyer, quoted by Bulgarian media, said that extradition would severely hamper his ability to defend himself in the Bulgarian trial, since he would not have sufficient time to prepare. Banev’s defence has five days to lodge an appeal against the extradition.