Bulgarians in Paris murder to appeal to Strasbourg: lawyer

1st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two Bulgarians who were sentenced this week to long jail terms for a brutal murder in Paris in 2000 will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, their lawyer said Wednesday.

On Monday, Bulgaria's Supreme Court of Appeal upheld jail sentences of 17 and 19 years respectively for Georgy Zhelyazkov and Stoyan Stoichkov for the murder of 24-year-old law student Martin Borilski, who was stabbed 93 times with a knife in his Paris apartment in 2000.

But the two have also protested their innnocence and Zhelyazkov's lawyer, Yulian Georgiev, said the two would take their case to Strasbourg.

"The short ruling of the supreme court does not take into consideration our arguments... We will launch a complaint at the ECHR within six months," Georgiev told AFP.

According to evidence presented in court, DNA samples taken from under Borilski's fingernails matched those of Zhelyazkov and Stoichkov.

But it took Bulgarian courts 10 years to close the case, which first saw the two men surprisingly acquitted in 2008 and then found guilty following a retrial.

The case was closely followed by French authorities who even pledged to put the two men on trial in France had they been cleared again in Bulgaria.

The long court saga also raised eyebrows within the European Commission which has frequently criticised Bulgaria's slow and inefficient judiciary.

But the defence complained of "unprecedented pressure" when a retrial was ordered after France's ambassador to Sofia, Etienne de Poncins, expressed "surprise and incomprehension" at the original acquittal.

The defence lawyers also questioned the quality of the autopsy on Borilski, as well as the quality of the evidence collected by the French investigators.

Zhelyazkov and Stoichkov went briefly on the run after receiving their jail sentences in February but were caught and jailed in their home town of Varna.

© 2010 AFP

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