Investigators searching a burnt-out apartment in Sofia for clues in the attempted killing of convicted drug gang leader Zlatko “Baretata” Ivanov on January 29 2013 have found the Kalashnikov AK47 assault rifle they suspect was used in the shooting.
The rifle has been sent for ballistic testing, as have shell casings found at the scene. It is believed that the apartment was set on fire as the shooter escaped, to make forensic examination more difficult.
Ivanov, who was hit four times in the shooting, was still be treated in the Bulgarian capital city’s Pirogov hospital on January 30 and was said to be in a critical condition.
Accompanied by security guards, he had arrived at the court for a hearing in his appeal against an eight-year jail sentence.
On January 30, police also were investigating the possibility that a second shooter had been waiting in Positano Street, should Ivanov have chosen to use an entrance to the Sofia court other than the main one on Vitosha Boulevard.
Police are pursuing a wide range of lines of inquiry regarding the shooting of Ivanov.
A motion in the Bulgarian Parliament on January 30 by a right-wing minority party for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov to address the National Assembly on the topic of the Ivanov shooting was voted down by the ruling majority.
Bulgarian media quoted European Commission spokesperson Mark Gray as saying on January 30 that the recent cases of attacks in Bulgaria and other internal issues had to be resolved at internal level. “We expect the authorities to take appropriate measures, but that is all that can be said on the subject.” He had been asked to comment on the Ivanov shooting and the January 19 incident at the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party congress in Sofia, during which a man – now facing charges of attempted murder and grave hooliganism – was seen pointing a gas pistol at the head of MRF long-time leader Ahmed Dogan.
Gray noted that the EC repeatedly had expressed the position that Bulgaria’s judicial system needed fundamental reform and was confident that the Bulgarian authorities knew what they had to do.
US ambassador to Bulgaria Marcie Ries, speaking in Sofia at an Atlantic Club event on January 30, said that the Dogan and Ivanov attacks were “concerning”.
“These attacks are concerning. Violence is never an answer. We expect political statements on behalf of the Bulgarian government. I do not think that these attacks will turn us back to the dark past of Bulgaria, but they really incite serious concern and there is a need to think of how this process can be mastered and the politicians should give guarantees that such things will not happen again,” Ries said.
In prepared remarks for her speech, Ries said that recent events have demonstrated that there is considerable interest in Bulgaria in having a prosecution service and a national judiciary that can truly uphold the rule of law.