The chief of the orthopaedic and traumatology department at Sofia’s St Anna University Hospital, Professor Stefan Stanchev, is in serious condition after being severely assaulted by men armed with metal rods in the early morning of April 5.
Stanchev (58) was walking his dog in the Beli Brezi neighbourhood of Sofia when the men attacked.
He was admitted to St Anna Hospital and has undergone a series of operations to treat severe cranial and facial trauma. Stanchev was at risk of losing his left eye, doctors at St Anna Hospital said. While his condition was serious, it was not critical.
There was no immediate public explanation of the motives for the attack.
The deputy chief secretary of the Interior Ministry, Georgi Arabadzhiev, told reporters that it had emerged from Stanchev’s relatives that there had been previous attempts at attacking him. This had not been reported to police at the time, Arabadzhiev said.
The Interior Ministry said that police were seeking three men in connection with the assault. Investigators were seeking to establish the identities of the attackers. Forensic examiners were at the scene of the attack. The ministry denied media reports that the men had been masked.
Arabadzhiev said that given Stanchev’s serious condition, it was not possible to question him. However, Stanchev had spoken to his family.
“We spoke to the relatives and we have leads,” Arabadzhiev said.
Bulgarian National Radio quoted police sources as saying that robbery was not believed to be the motive for the attack. Police were working on several theories and did not exclude the attack being motivated by personal revenge, the report said.
Separate reports quoted Stanchev’s colleagues at the hospital as saying that the severity of the assault was such that the intention was to kill him, rather than intimidate him.