news 22 Jan 13

Bulgaria Remands Politician’s Pistol Attacker

A Sofia court ordered pre-trial detention for a man who aimed a gun at a top ethnic Turkish politician during a party conference on live television.

The court refused bail for Oktay Enimehmedov, the 25-year-old who pointed the tear-gas gun at the head of Ahmed Dogan, ex-leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, while he was making a televised speech on Saturday.

Prosecutors had initially wanted to charge Enimehmedov with attempted murder but the charge was modified when it was discovered that a shot from the pistol could not have actually killed Dogan.

Enimehmedov has instead been charged with threatening murder and hooliganism "characterised by particular audacity".

The pistol is believed to have malfunctioned when Enimehmedov tried to fire it at Dogan at point-blank range.

He was immediately dragged away by party officials and then beaten up in full view of the television cameras.

During the court hearing on Tuesday, Enimehmedov said he was not sorry for what he did, just for the fact that his gun misfired.

Demanding pre-trial detention, chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov warned that Enimehmedov might flee, commit another crime, be attacked or even killed.

Tsatsarov told Bulgarian National Radio that he had no evidence to suggest that Enimehmedov should fear for his life but said "history has provided plenty of similar examples".

Enimehmedov also expressed concerns that somebody might try "to wipe him out".

He told the court that he was no threat to society but only to "the secret society" within Dogan party – an apparent reference to the inner circle making up the Movement for Rights and Freedoms’ leadership.

Like Dogan, Enimehmedov is an ethnic Turk.

The authorities have said that he has a previous criminal record for drug possession, theft and assault.

Saturday's incident was the most serious attack on a politician in post-communist Bulgaria since former Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov was shot dead near his home in 1996.

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