Plovdiv District Court sentenced Lyubomir Danchev (44) to four years in jail on May 25 2017, finding him guilty of having caused the August 2016 fire that gutted former warehouses in Bulgaria’s second city’s architecturally historic “Tobacco Town” precinct.
Exiting the court, Danchev, who had been homeless for some time at the time of his arrest soon after the blaze, continued to insist that he was not guilty.
The judicial assessment was that the total damage to the warehouses in the blaze was more than 11.7 million leva (about 5.98 million euro). Danchev was ordered to pay 7689 leva for the costs of the pre-trial proceedings and 1370 for court expenses.
The time he has been in custody since August 21 2016 will be deducted from his sentence.
The court heard that the fire began in a building owned by Ripa Ltd and spread to three other buildings, two of which were monuments of culture.
The Tobacco Town precinct in Plovdiv dates from the early part of the 20th century, when the Bulgarian city was a key point in the lucrative Balkan tobacco trade. In a separate incident earlier, another tobacco warehouse was the subject of an attempted demolition, which left it substantially damaged and resulted in criminal charges, including against the now-dead chief architect of Plovdiv of the time.
The court’s verdict is subject to appeal in the Plovdiv Regional Court within 15 days.