Thursday, 12 January 2012

Bulgarian Roma Clan Member Gets Suspended Sentence over Tortoises (Via Herp Digest)

Bulgarian Roma Clan Member Gets Suspended Sentence over Tortoises
1/2/12, Sofia News Agency

The 33 tortoises seized from properties of notorious Roma clan leader Tsar Kiro have been placed at the Gea Chelonia Foundation Tortoise Centre in the vilage of Banya. Photo by BGNES

The court has approved a plea agreement between Sophia Hristova, daughter-in-law of the notorious Roma clan leader Kiril Rashkov, and the prosecution, under which she will get a one year suspended sentence with three years of probation and a fine of BGN 5000 for illegally keeping 33 tortoises.

The 34-year-old woman pleaded guilty to charges of illegally keeping 33 tortoises in the period May 27, 2011 - November 16, 2011 in the Izgorqlata Vodentisa ("The Burnt Mill") locality on the territory of the southern Bulgarian village of Katunitsa.

3 of the 33 land-dwelling reptiles are spur-thighed tortoises, which are included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, while the other 30 are Hermann's tortoises, which are protected under Bulgaria's Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The plea agreement is final and takes effect immediately.

The tortoises have been seized by the state and have been taken to the the Gea Chelonia Foundation Tortoise Center located in the village of Banya.

The reptiles were found in early November, when Bulgarian police officers and archaeologists started inspecting Rashkov's properties in Katunitsa using metal detectors because they had been led to believe that his clan had buried vast amounts of gold there.

However, the authorities only discovered the tortoises instead.

Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, and his clan triggered massive tensions across Bulgaria in September after the murder of a teenager in Katunitsa.

On September 23, a van driven by associates of Rashkov ran down and killed 19-year-old ethnic Bulgarian Angel Petrov.

On November 22, another representative of the notorious Roma clan, Kiril Rashkov-Jr, the grandson of Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, was sentenced to 8 months of imprisonment for issuing a murder threat to Veselin Hristov.

Rashkov-Jr vowed to appeal the verdict.

Tsar Kiro has been placed at the Plovdiv Prison's dispensary and faces the same charges.

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