Four to be punished over Lyaskovets fatal shootout fiasco

Four Interior Ministry employees are to be punished after an internal investigation into the March 14 shootout in the Bulgarian town of Lyaskovets between police and a man said to be mentally ill, in which a police officer died and three others were wounded.

This was announced at a news conference on April 7 by Interior Ministry Tsvetlin Yovchev, who himself faced earlier calls from opposition parties for his resignation over an operation that he admits being a failure.

Zhivko Kotsev, former head of the Veliko Turnovo police directorate, and the current head, Hristo Hristov, both will be severely punished, according to Yovchev, who said that Hristov would be removed from his post because he had failed to take the necessary measures regarding the operation.

Also to be punished are two staff of the Veliko Turnovo district police directorate whose “covert surveillance” of the suspect’s home was so indiscreet as to alert the mentally ill man, who had a stash of firearms and who repeatedly had threatened to shoot pupils at an adjoining school, that a raid against him was in the offing.

Yovchev said that these two had failed to report to their superiors that they had been seen by the suspect, Petko Petkov, who currently is facing criminal charges in connection with the death of the policeman, the wounding of the others and the illegal possession of firearms.

Yovchev said that no steps would be taken against members of the squad who had carried out the March 14 early-morning raid – which lasted several hours after the first attempt failed – because the squad had done their job properly.

The interior minister said that provision would be made for appropriate training for such situations and there would be a review of equipment required.

The operation had failed because of the inadequacies of the staff of the Veliko Turnovo regional office of the Interior Ministry, Yovchev said.

The plan for the operation had not worked. The intention had been to enter Petkov’s home from three directions, but this had not been possible, and Petkov had managed to barricade himself in.

He said that all actions in the course of the operation were legal, according to the findings of the investigation.

(Photo: Bart Groenhuizen)




The Sofia Globe staff

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