Bulgaria indicts suspect in journalist killing

Severin Krasimirov faces a jail sentence of 10-20 years for the rape and a possible life sentence for the murder. (AP)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Bulgaria indicts suspect in journalist killing

  • ‘Yes, I am guilty. I am sorry, I can’t believe I did this’
  • The 30-year-old TV presenter was found near a jogging path along the Danube in Ruse on October 6

SOFIA: Bulgarian prosecutors on Friday indicted a man accused of the rape and murder of a television journalist and the court hearing the case ordered him to remain in custody pending trial.
Severin Krasimirov, 20, was handcuffed and under heavy guard when he appeared before the regional court in the northern town of Ruse.
He told journalists that he had approached journalist Viktoria Marinova and hit her in the face.
“Yes, I am guilty. I am sorry, I can’t believe I did this,” he said.
Prosecutors called for him to be tried for Marinova’s rape and murder.
According to media reports, he had already admitted that to police in Germany where he was arrested.
But he said he had not known that Marinova had died and denied raping her.
If convicted, Krasimirov faces a jail sentence of 10-20 years for the rape and a possible life sentence for the murder.
The body of the 30-year-old television presenter was found near a jogging path along the Danube in Ruse on October 6.
Authorities said she died from blows to the head and suffocation, and that she was raped after her death.
The case shocked Bulgaria and drew strong international condemnation as observers suspected a possible connection between the crime and Marinova’s work.
However, investigators found no evidence to support this theory.
They said the crime appeared to be “a spontaneous attack.”
Ruse prosecutor Kremena Kolitsova told the court that evidence and medical expertise showed the journalist had been punched seven times in the face and the resulting nasal fracture led to her suffocation.
Investigators said Marinova’s blood had also been found on Krasimirov’s clothes.
The prosecutor said the suspect should remain under arrest because of the risk of flight.
Krasimirov was arrested in the German town of Stade, near the northern city of Hamburg, on October 9, after leaving Bulgaria by car on the day after the killing.


Turkey remains world’s worst offender against press freedom

Updated 13 December 2018
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Turkey remains world’s worst offender against press freedom

  • A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists said that a near-record number of journalists around the world are behind bars for their work
  • The CPJ said there are dozens of reporters missing or kidnapped in the Middle East and North Africa

Turkey remains the world’s worst offender against press freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday, with at least 68 journalists imprisoned for anti-state charges.

Turkey has previously said its crackdown is justified because of an attempted coup to overthrow the government in 2016.

The report said that a near-record number of journalists around the world are behind bars for their work, including two Reuters reporters whose imprisonment in Myanmar has drawn international criticism.

There were 251 journalists jailed for doing their jobs as of Dec. 1, the CPJ said in an annual study. For the third consecutive year, more than half are in Turkey, China and Egypt, where authorities have accused reporters of anti-governmental activities.

“It looks like a trend now,” the report’s author, Elana Beiser, said in an interview. “It looks like the new normal.”

The number of journalists imprisoned on charges of “false news” rose to 28, up from 21 last year and nine in 2016, according to the CPJ, a U.S.-based nonprofit that promotes press freedom.

The report criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for frequently characterizing negative media coverage as “fake news,” a phrase that is also used by leaders against their critics in countries like the Philippines and Turkey.

In Egypt, at least 25 journalists are in prison. Authorities say this is to limit dissent are directed at militants trying to undermine the state.

Meanwhile, when asked about journalists being jailed, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: “Legal measures are not taken because of these suspects’ or criminals’ professions. This is unrelated.”

The overall number of jailed journalists is down eight percent from last year’s record high of 272, the CPJ said.

The total does not take into account journalists who have disappeared or are being held by non-state actors. The CPJ said there are dozens of reporters missing or kidnapped in the Middle East and North Africa, including several held by Houthis in Yemen.

(With Reuters)