Suspect in Bulgarian journalist's rape, murder held in Germany

Sofia - By Elena Lalova, - German police confirmed on Wednesday they had detained a suspect from Bulgaria in connection with the murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova.

The suspect was taken into custody in the northern German city of Stade late Tuesday after dozens of police officers stormed the home of relatives following a tip-off from Bulgarian authorities.

Viktoria Marinova
Viktoria Marinova
German prosecutors were now looking into conditions for his extradition back to Bulgaria.
Germany gave the suspect's age as 20. Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said earlier the man was 21 and had a criminal record.
The body of 30-year-old Marinova was found on Saturday in a park where she had gone jogging in Ruse, located near Bulgaria's border with Romania. She had been raped.
The suspect initially fled to Romania, just a bridge away, Bulgarian state prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said. It it not clear how, or when, he arrived in Germany.
Bulgarian police said they found Marinova's items in the suspect's home. His DNA was also found on her body.
The suspect has been charged with rape and premeditated murder by Bulgarian authorities, Tsatsarov said.
Prosecutors in the northern German state of Lower Saxony said they were verifying the conditions required for extradition to Bulgaria and had petitioned a regional court for a formal arrest warrant.
Marinova presented a programme on a local cable television channel. The last episode featured investigative journalists from Romania and Bulgaria, both of whom were researching fraud involving EU funds in Bulgaria.
Her divorced husband, Svilen Maksimov, said that she herself was not an investigative reporter, but the executive of the channel and presenter.
"She brought to the public what investigations found," he told the bTV channel.
Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 and is perceived as profoundly corrupt - Transparency International last year ranked it 71st worldwide, the worst among EU countries.
It has been speculated that the murder was connected to her work, as in two other slayings of investigative journalists in EU countries in the past 12 months - of Maltese Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017 and Slovak Jan Kuciak in February.
But Tsatsarov said it was too early to draw conclusions. "At this stage we cannot link her work with the murder," the prosecutor said.
Conservative Prime Minister Boyko Borisov condemned the pressure his country faced from the outside to resolve the murder and the quick comparisons with the cases in Malta and Slovakia.
"In spite of everything that taught us ... not to accuse anyone without evidence, they attack us with tweets," he told a news conference, singling out the leader of the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, German politician Manfred Weber. 
Borisov said that he could change his mind about Weber as the top EPP candidate in the European Parliament elections next May. "We will have serious discussions within the EPP," said Borisov, whose GERB party is the member of the EPP in Europe.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker welcomed the "swift and intensive efforts" of the Bulgarian authorities.
"The swift reaction and joint efforts demonstrate the resolve to bring justice for such despicable acts," Juncker said, extending his thoughts to Marinova's friends and family

Wednesday, October 10th 2018
By Elena Lalova,

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