Bulgarian man who abused Romani youth convicted of racially-motivated attack
Last week the District Court in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria, reviewed the case of a racist attack perpetrated by Angel Kaleev. In April of this year, Kaleev assaulted a Romani youth, Mitko Jonkov, after Jonkov dared to assert that he and Kaleev were equals.
According to information published by the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), the court came to the conclusion that Kaleev is guilty of committing an ethnically-motivated hate attack against an individual (per Article 126, paragraph 2 CC of Bulgarian law). The court has sentenced Kaleev to an 11-month imprisonment, deferred for a probationary period of three years.
In addition, Kaleev must also perform community service work. The ERRC believes this is the first-ever case of the Bulgarian justice system deciding to acknowledge racial motivation for a violent crime committed against a member of an ethnic minority.
"In Bulgaria we are used to seeing investigators and prosecutors ignoring racist crimes and by all means refusing to recognize them as such so that the mere submission of an indictment for a racially motivated crime in this case is a big success. In this sense, the agreement reached in this case is a breakthrough and [we] hope that investigators and prosecutors across the country will adopt this practice," said Margarita Ilieva, Legal Director of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC).
The case, which news server Romea.cz reported on previously, shocked the Bulgarian public and sparked a wave of solidarity with the victim. A video recording of the incident taken by the assailant using a mobile phone shows roughly rwo minutes of his aggressive, brutal bullying of young Mitko.
After the video was published, the aggressor said he did not feel guilty and that he is a proud Bulgarian nationalist. The Romani victim of his attack grew up an orphan and is currently working and caring for four brothers.
A total of 800 000 Romani people live in Bulgaria. Similar cases of violence against them there occur regularly.
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