Britain to Stay Involved in Gebrev Poisoning Investigation Even after Brexit


Britain to Stay Involved
in Gebrev Poisoning Investigation
Even after Brexit

Sofia, February 11 (BTA) - British Ambassador to Bulgaria Emma Hopkins said on Monday that her country's authorities will stay involved in the investigation of the 2015 poisoning of Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev even after Britain leaves the European Union. She said Britain has been working on the case in close cooperation with the Bulgarian special services for a few months now. After Brexit, Britain will keep working well with its partners in Bulgaria and the other EU member states, Ambassador Hopkins said.

The diplomat spoke to journalists after discussing the Gebrev case with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov and Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Ivailo Ivanov at an emergency meeting earlier in the day.

Dunarit ordnance company owner Emilian Gebrev, his son and the company production director were poisoned in 2015. They all survived the incident. Recently, the investigation was reopened due to suspicions that a substance from the Novichok family had been used against Gebrev. Media reports suggest a link between Gebrev's poisoning, the Skripal case in Britain, and a visit by a Russian military intelligence officer to Bulgaria just days before the incident with Gebrev.

Also speaking to the media on Monday, Prosecutor General Tsatsarov said the British special services are familiar with the work of the Bulgarian authorities on the Gebrev case and have all the documents. According to Tsatsarov, some of the things reported by the media are suggestions rather than facts.

The forensic examination showed acute intoxication caused by organophosphorus compounds, the Prosecutor General went on to say. He noted that the criminal procedure was dropped on April 4, 2016 because the case remained unsolved. "On October 11, 2018, I received a letter from Emilian Gebrev in which he said he had reasons to suspect that the poison may have been from the Novichok family," Tsatsarov said. The investigation was therefore resumed on October 15, 2018. The Prosecutor General, the Interior Minister and the President of the State Agency for National Security formed a joint investigation team, which was an unprecedented step in handling an individual case.

Gebrev asked - and paid - for blood and urine tests in a Finnish laboratory which were arranged via Sofia's Military Medical Academy, Tsatsarov said. The results received from Finland's Verifin institute confirmed the presence of organophosphorus compounds, which are used in some pesticides, but the exact pesticide was not identified. The tested samples were not found to contain any substances figuring on the list of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Britain has requested cooperation from the Bulgarian police and coordination between the investigation teams, Tsatsarov said.

Gebrev's request to resume the criminal procedure was brought to the notice of the British authorities at the highest diplomatic level and other EU partners at the operative level. The Bulgarian investigation team is working in full coordination with the investigators of the Skripal case in Britain, Tsatsarov said.

The British authorities have identified three officers of Russia's military intelligence agency GRU as involved in the Skripal case. Two of them were probably the direct perpetrators, and the third one, Sergei Fedotov, may have been an accomplice. The former two have never visited Bulgaria, but Fedotov travelled to Bulgaria three times in 2015. He arrived by plane - the first time in Sofia, the second time in the seaside city of Bourgas and the third time in Sofia again. The last time he left, he travelled by car and crossed the border into Serbia. RY/VE

Source: Sofia