Gabrovo Police Chief Resigns amid Anti-Roma Riots


Gabrovo Police Chief
amid Anti-Roma Riots

Sofia, April 12 (BTA) - The police chief in the central Bulgarian town of Gabrovo has resigned amid anti-Roma riots this week, the Interior Ministry press office said. The Interior Ministry is checking how local police have handled the ongoing riots and more administrative and organizational measures may be taken depending on the outcome of the check, the Ministry also said.

The news came shortly after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was quoted by the Bulgarian National Radio as saying that the Gabrovo police chief should resign and thus take responsibility for mishandling the ongoing riots.

Anti-Roma riots broke out Wednesday evening following an incident in which three Roma men beat a shop assistant on April 7. A peaceful protest was staged in front of Town Hall with calls for the assailants' continued detention but tensions then flared as hundreds of protestors tried to storm the building of the local investigation service and part of them proceeded to the Roma neighbourhood, attacking several unoccupied houses there.

Prime Minister Borissov said that the police should have taken measures against the riots. "From what I heard, big groups of rioters walked up and down the streets, scaring mothers, children and passers-by. Where was the police? They should have asked me to dispatch a 100, 200, 300 more policemen. We have the staff, we have everything," Borissov told journalists in Croatia where he participated in a summit of Central and Eastern European countries and China.

He dismissed accusations by the nationalists that the State has failed to deal with what they call "Roma criminality". "All Roma who commit an offence are apprehended but not all [ethnic] Bulgarians. Of 12,000 people in prison and jail, 10,000 are Roma," said the Prime Minister as quoted by

Earlier in the day, Internal Security and Public Order Committee Chair Plamen Nounev said at a briefing in the National Assembly that the Interior Ministry's Regional Directorate in Gabrovo was too slow to react to events in town.

Plamen Nounev urged the Interior Ministry to analyze the actions of the local police. Deputy Interior Minister Krassimir Tsipov agreed that the Gabrovo police was too slow to react and said his Ministry had already launched a check and an analysis.

Nounev explained that the assailants were revealed the night of the assault but were detained only on April 10.

According to him, the protest on April 10 was improvised, and occurred again the next day, with 800 to 900 people participating. At first, the protest began with presenting demands, and then protesters asked to meet with Gabrovo Mayor Tanya Hristova. The meeting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and GERB MP Nikolay Sirakov.

Sirakov commented that what is happening in Gabrovo brought to the surface a hidden anger - which he said was justified and grew over the years - over "the inequality between the Roma and the rest of the population". According to him, "that inequality arises from the feeling that they [the Roma] receive social benefits without paying taxes and contributing to society", which he believes is partly true.

Krassimir Tsipov said that enough policemen have been deployed in Gabrovo and that, if necessary, more gendarmery and special police forces will be dispatched.

Politicians urged Gabrovo citizens to remain calm, to hold peaceful protests and not to yield to instigations. IG/TH/LN///

Source: Sofia