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Guilty verdict for Bulgarian citizens in Malaysia

31 October 2012

The Court in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, today found guilty and sentenced to death Bulgarian citizens Ivan Kostov and Georgi Bakalov, in accordance with Article 39 of the Narcotics Act.

The court session on October 29 2012 was attended by the Charge d’Affaires of the Bulgarian Embassy in Jakarta, Katina Novkova, who spoke to the two Bulgarians.

The sentencing was attended by representatives of the Honorary Consulate in Malaysia, Mr Roland Heng Huat Soh. According to the lawyer for the two Bulgarians, an appeal against the verdict will be lodged in the Court of Appeal.

Bulgaria, like other European Union countriess opposes the death penalty, the head of the America Asia Australia and Oceania Directorate, Angel Obretsov, will say at a meeting in Malaysia on November 5 and 6. Bulgaria will request assistance from the European External Action Service, which has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

Three Bulgarian nationals, Georgi Georgiev, Ivan Kostov and Georgi Bakalov, were arrested on May 18 2011 at Sultan Ismail international airport in Malaysia for drug trafficking. They had attempted to bring into Malaysia 5.6kg of amphetamines worth 1.5 million ringgit (about $497 000)

 The three men were held in custody until May 25 2012, while the investigation into them was underway, and then were moved to a prison in the state of Johor, Malaysia, pending questioning of witnesses and the laying of charges. The representative of Bulgaria’s mission in Indonesia and Honorary Consul in Malaysia, Mr Steven Soh, visited the Bulgarians while they were in custody in prison and remained in constant contact with them and with their lawyer.

In the absence of evidence of a criminal offence, Mr Georgiev was released and deported to Bulgaria by Malaysian authorities on June 29 2012. Ivan Kostov and Georgi Bakalov remain in prison. The two Bulgarians have a lawyer who was retained by their relatives. The Honorary Consul of Bulgaria in Malaysia attended the preliminary hearing of witnesses and several closed hearings.

Bulgaria does not have its own diplomatic representation in Malaysia. The Bulgarian diplomatic mission in Indonesia has repeatedly requested official information from the Malaysian authorities, but so far has had no reply. After a visit, the Charge d’Affaires made representations for the Bulgarian citizens to undergo medical examinations in hospital and to receive official information about the previous hearings. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to work on the case.

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