Bulgarian Court Leaves 'Contract Killing' Group Members in Custody

The Specialized Criminal Court in Sofia has put on remand five of the six members of what authorities say is an organized criminal gang involved in a number of illegal activities.

After a five-hour-long deliberation magistrates decided on Saturday to leave only one of them, Angel Angelov, under house arrest, thus rejecting demands of all defendants' lawyers that they be released on a recognizance order.

Angelov was placed under house arrest because he has an ill child to look after.

Meanwhile officials announced that a perquisition carried out in the neighborhood of Boyana, Sofia, where some of the gang members were allegedly having their headquarters, had not resulted in finding any illegally possessed firearms, according to private national broadcaster NOVA.

The group is being suspected of involvement in contract killing, drug trafficking, arson and illegal use of firearms and explosives.

Its members were hunted down in a large-scale operation in Sofia on Friday involving over 200 police officers.

Mila Georgieva and Martin Georgiev (mother and son) are believed to have been the group's leaders, but Martin is still being sought by police.

So far there has been no evidence that "murders" have been carried out, with charges pressed for three counts of attempted murder only.

One of them allegedly targeted Georgi Semerdzhiev, deemed to have a connection with Evelin Banev, aka Brendo, known as one of the "Cocaine Kings" and sentenced in Italy to 20 years for drug trafficking in 2013.

Earlier this week the Interior Ministry's Chief Secretary Svetlozar Lazarov explained the operation was triggered by the move of some gang members to plot the murders of others.


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