Bulgarian Prosecutor-General orders check of all firearm licences after fatal shooting of police officer

Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has ordered a complete check-up of all gun licences in the country, whether for hunting or self-defence, in the wake of a March 14 incident in which a police officer died in a shootout with a mentally ill man who had a stash of firearms.

The inspection, announced on March 18, will require authorities in charge of firearms supervision to provide information including the expiry dates of existing gun licences.

Tsatsarov ordered the inspection to check whether firearms control authorities were doing their jobs properly.

There has been national indignation in Bulgaria about the fact that a man known to be mentally ill, and confirmed in an official report to be so, was allowed to remain in possession of firearms, including hunting rifles.

The shootout, now the subject of an official investigation after allegations of bungling by those who organised the operation to seize the man’s firearms, followed a series of complaints that the man repeatedly had threatened to shoot pupils at a school adjoining the building where he was living.

The investigation ordered by Tsatsarov will also cover Interior Ministry officials in Veliko Turnovo and Gorna Oryahovitsa for dereliction of duty in the case of Petko Petkov (53), the man now facing criminal charges of killing a police officer in the March 14 incident in the town of Lyaskovets.

In the shootout, apart from the police officer who died, three other police were wounded. Unconfirmed media reports said that two other officers had been hit by gunfire, but the bullets lodged in their protective clothing. The shooter himself has been treated in hospital for injuries sustained during the operation, which began at 6am and with repeated attempts by police to arrest the man, ended up lasting several hours.

Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetozar Lazarov has confirmed that he was to face a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the Lyaskovets operation. Lazarov and Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev have been targeted by opposition parties that say that they should resign over the fatal incident.




The Sofia Globe staff

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