A man has been arrested in Germany over the rape and killing of a Bulgarian journalist whose work highlighted corruption in the East European country.
Bulgaria’s prosecutor general Sotir Tsatsarov confirmed the arrest of Severin Krassimirov, a 21-year-old Bulgarian citizen.
Prosecutors in the state of Lower Saxony said the suspect was arrested on Tuesday evening outside the city of Hamburg on a European arrest warrant. Prosecutors will examine whether he can be extradited and apply to have him put in formal custody.
Bulgarian media reported that Krassimirov’s mother lives in Germany. The interior ministry said he left Bulgaria early on Saturday afternoon, crossing the bridge at Ruse over the Danube into Romania.
“There is physical evidence to link to the murder,” Mr Marinov said. Krassimirov, a resident of Ruse, had a criminal record for scrap metal theft.
The minister said investigators had spoken to Ms Marinova’s family and friends and “there is no apparent link to her work”. Mr Tsatsarov said the evidence suggested it was “a spontaneous attack, not premeditated”.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov offered condolences to her family and thanked investigators for their work.
However, he said he would withdraw his support for German MEP Manfred Weber, a leading candidate for the next head of the European Commission, because of tweets he made associating the death of Ms Marinova with those of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak. Both were killed due to their probes into corrupt officials.
On Wednesday, Mr Weber tweeted: “Bulgarian authorities have acted swiftly and effectively. We have full confidence in the Bulgarian authorities to find justice for the family and loved ones.”
While she did not appear to have been closely involved in the fraud investigation, her show touched on a sensitive subject in Bulgaria, where corruption is endemic. The Balkan nation, which joined the EU in 2007, was ranked 71st on Transparency International’s corruption list last year.
Joining the bloc opened an enormous source of possible new funding for Bulgarian infrastructure projects or other programmes designed to bring the nation up to EU standards.