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'Umbrella killing' investigation continues

Latest update : 2008-09-10

Officials will continue an investigation into the 1978 murder of Georgy Markov, a famous Bulgarian play write and political dissident, who was stabbed with an umbrella while waiting for a bus on London's Waterloo Bridge.

Bulgaria's investigation service will continue a probe of the "umbrella killing" in London of dissident Georgy Markov in 1978, service director Boiko Naydenov told AFP Wednesday.

Initially, Bulgaria was to have closed its investigation into the killing when the 30-year statute of limitations expired this week.

But Naydenov said the probe concerned Markov's death and a 1978 attempt to kill another Bulgarian dissident in Paris, Vladimir Kostov, in the same way.

"A similar case with another (Bulgarian) dissident occurred at the same time. This fact can't be ignored," Naydenov said.

Under the law, if there is a killing or attempted killing of two or more people "then there is a 35-year statute of limitations, which can be prolonged further if the case has been interrupted," Naydenov said.

"So there is enough time and legal possibilities to search for the truth," he said.

Markov, a prominent journalist and playwright, fled communist Bulgaria in 1969 for Britain, where he regularly lambasted Bulgaria's communist regime in reports for the BBC and Radio Free Europe.

On September 7, 1978, the 67th anniversary of the birthday of Bulgaria's comminist dictator Todor Zhivkov, he was jabbed in the leg by a passer-by while waiting for the bus on London's Waterloo Bridge.

Markov later told his family that he saw the person dropping his umbrella.

The journalist developed a high fever and died in hospital days later without being questioned by police and an autopsy revealed a tiny ricin-filled metal pellet embedded in his thigh.

A similar pellet was also found by French police in the body of Bulgarian dissident Vladimir Kostov, a former agent of the Bulgarian secret services.

Kostov testified that in August 1978 while waiting in the Paris underground he "felt a prick and developed high fever, but survived it."

After hearing the circumstances around Markov's death he examined himself and doctors found a similar miniature metal pellet in his back, Kostov said.

"It is in Bulgaria's interest to bring this case to some conclusion once and for all, to do away with the ghosts of the past. If someone has ordered a killing, he has to be identified and taken to justice, even if he was part of power," Naydenov said.

"We will now put every effort in speeding up the investigation to get to the truth," he added.

Date created : 2008-09-10

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