site.btaTwo Ukrainians Detained for Smuggling 23 Migrants across Bulgaria
Twenty-three male migrants from Syria and Iraq were detained in South Central Bulgaria on Friday after a police chase that continued for 70 km across Stara Zagora Region, it transpired at a briefing in Plovdiv. Stara Zagora Regional District Prosecutor Tanya Dimitrova specified that also arrested were two Ukrainian nationals who were smuggling the migrants in a van with Polish registration.
The chase began on Trakia Motorway around noon on Friday after a police patrol signaled the van to stop but the vehicle kept going, driving at over 140 km/h while crossing several settlements. The van went off the road in a green area in the village of Rakitnitsa and stopped. The driver and one passenger, both of them Ukrainians, got off and ran for around 2 km before the police could catch them.
The two have been detained for 72 hours at a regional police department in Stara Zagora.
According to preliminary data, there was a second van with migrants but it was found empty.
A check shows that the Ukrainians entered Bulgaria late on November 21 and stayed in Sofia for several days. The van they were driving has entered and exited Bulgaria through the borders with Serbia and Romania several times in the last months.
A total of 64 pre-trial proceedings for smuggling migrants have been launched in Stara Zagora since the start of 2022, Dimitrova said. Forty-four of these have been closed and 32 smugglers have been convicted.
Later on Friday, the Plovdiv Appellate Prosecution Office said that the Stara Zagora District Prosecution Office is monitoring pre-trial proceedings against Ukrainian nationals R. V. and M. R., both aged 20, for aiding 23 men from Syria and Iraq to cross Bulgaria illegally in exchange for property gain.
According to the press release, the van went off the road in Rakitnitsa due to failure to take a turn. While the Ukrainians tried to run away, the migrants remained in the vehicle. The police fired warning shots to make the running perpetrators stop. No one was injured.
The investigation into the case continues.