The trial in a Bulgarian court of 14 people, allegedly supporters of radical Islam, on charges of propagating religious hatred and the overthrow of the state got off to a stormy start on July 28, with a defence lawyer fined for boycotting proceedings.
One of the 14 people on trial in the regional court in the town of Pazardzhik was Ahmed Musa Ahmed, who was handed a heavier sentence by the Plovdiv appellate court on July 1 2015.
Ahmed and the other defendants were arrested in November 2014, following raids by the State Agency for National Security, police, gendamerie and prosecutors, which included searches at 40 different addresses.
At the hearing on July 28 2016, there was a clash between prosecutor Nelly Popova and defence lawyer Altai Kuzev, with Popova saying that Kuzev was mocking prosecution witness Petar Tonchev.
Tonchev had told the court that he had seen in Ahmed’s room the flag of Daesh – the self-described “Islamic State” – and had seen Ahmed wearing a hat and clothing with the “Islamic State” symbol.
After the verbal clash, Kuzev left the courtroom. A recess was declared, but afterwards Kuzev failed to return and attempts to contact him failed because his mobile phone was switched off.
The judge fined Kuzev 500 leva (about 250 euro). A public defender will be appointed to take over from him.
Six witnesses had been scheduled to appear, including the former secretary of the Chief Mufti, Ahmed Ahmedov. Only three witnesses came to court. Proceedings, however, got no further than the questioning of Tonchev.
The trial was adjourned until September 16.