Bulgarian prosecutors request custody for Albanians held as suspected ‘jihadists’
Prosecutors in the Bulgarian town of Kyustendil were to ask a court on August 28 to order the remand in custody of five men who were detained near the Bulgarian-Macedonian border the previous day, allegedly in possession of material supporting the “Islamic State” terrorist organisation.
The men have been described as Albanian citizens. They were arrested during a check by Bulgarian Border Police at the Gueshevo checkpoint, which is also one of the three border crossing points where Bulgaria has deployed military to back up Border Police because the illegal migration crisis.
Of the group of five, three are said to have said that they were citizens of Kosovo but had no identity documents, while a fourth had documents but refused to show them to police. Only the driver of the car in which the five were travelling had identity documents. The group were aged between 20 and 24.
The Kyustendil Regional Prosecutor’s Office said that the men would face charges of attempting undocumented entry to the country, which carries up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 100 to 300 leva.
Reports said that during a search of the car and the passengers’ luggage, Border Police found promotional material, including videos on phones, supporting the “Islamic State”.
Bulgarian National Television said that on being checked, “the Albanian citizens offered a bribe in euro and this raised further suspicions in the police officers”.
Speaking to bTV on August 28, Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev said that it was not known how the group had crossed the border but there were suspicions that there were representatives of different radical groups among them.
“It seems that the five men arrested close to the border are dangerous. We should not underestimate the issue – we see what happens in Turkey and Greece. We can not afford to be complacent,” Nenchev said.