From behind the walls of the Bulgarian prisons

About a year has passed since the violent rape gang assaulted, sexually molested and raped up to 10 victims in Sofia Central Prison’s 8th Group. Just by the passing of time all those involved including the Mayor-Prisoner (responsible prisoner for the group), the Social-Inspector, the guards posted to 8th Group and the perpetrators and victims have all moved on to different places in the national prison system. However not a single perpetrator was ever charged for the mass rapes that took place between November and December 2011. Neither the then Social-Inspector Atanasova or the guards were ever reprimanded for their complicity in the mass rapes. This brings into question the culpability of the entire administrative body of not only Sofia Central Prison by also the special Investigator who responded to one of the victim’s complaints. Responsible for 8th Group at the time was Social-Inspector Atanasova, responsible for Social-Inspector Atanasova is the Head Social-Inspector Vasileva who sits on the Sofia Central Prison commission. Responsible for the Head Social-Inspector Vasileva is the Director of the prison, Peter Krestev. Also responsible for internal security is the Commandant Yordanov. Now these 4 people took absolutely no actions either to protect men form rape of to sanction those responsible.

Where does the buck stop? It is confirmed by witnesses that Social-Inspector Atanasova and the guards in 8th Group were informed at to the severity of the assaults and rapes. So does the buck stop with Social-Inspector Atanasova? Or sis she, as required by procedure and law inform the upper levels of the prison Administration and the Sofia City Prosecutor’s office? This question has not been answered and as so many times in the Bulgarian “justice” system it seems that it’s not ‘what’ you know but ‘who’ you know. With whom were the rapists connected to within the prison hierarchy that they were afforded a full blown cover up, that most likely went all the way up to the Director Peter Krestev, through the Head Social-Inspector Vasileva and the Commandant Yordanov. For these heads of the prison to claim ignorance of the facts is not a good enough excuse from public servants whose very job it is to know. About a year has passed and were coming up to another Christmas and yet nothing has been done to rectify an administration that protects and colludes with rapists. Most of the victims if not all were only 18 and 19 years of age, first time in prison and for minor theft and drug offences. However Sofia Central Prison took no actions to protect the most vulnerable upon entering the prison.

The standard practice of prison administrations in Bulgaria is to allow for a ‘Lord Of The Flies’ scenario to flourish where by the most violent and perverted work in collaboration with the Social-Inspectors and guards in order to control the other 99% of the prison population. In return for controlling the other prisoners they are afforded a great deal of protection from the guards and administration. Many such cases have already been published in the Bulgarian media, for example a prisoner who was responsible for the kitchen who was allowed to steal food from the prison’s supply with impunity due to his informing on other prisoners to the Head of Regimes Svetkov also on the Sofia Central Prison’s commission board which spaned a time period of over 10 years, of note the quantities of food he was stealing was several hundred portions of meals daily. Not to be forgotten is the already minimalist nature of Bulgarian prison meals, for over 10 years prisoners in Sofia Central Prison were underfed due to theft that was allowed by the prison’s administration.

In connection with corruption and food, the Head of ‘Zatvorno Delo’ or translated into English ‘Prison Work’ which is a state corporation directly under the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice has again been implicated into gross improprieties. On the 31st of October a search was conducted by the prison guards of Sofia Central Prison in the places of work of 3 buildings used by the corporation ‘Prison Work’. There they found several hundred kilos of food that had been pilfered from the Sofia Central Prison’s warehouse. Underfed prisoners could be excused for wanting more food to eat, however a large quantity of the food was also found in a guards car. As it turned out the workers of the corporation ‘Prison Work’ under the command of Nina Glavchovska and the Ministry of Justice were stealing food on mass from the prisoners’ food supplies, trafficking them out through the cars of guards from the ‘Prison Work’ Garage within Sofia Central Prison and then selling the pilfered stock outside of the prison walls. Included in the pilfered food was: Beans, lentils, rice, cooking oil, mince, potatoes, onions, yellow cheese and white cheese. All of which make up the base of prison meals.

The scandalous nature of the company ‘Prison Work’ continues as now it is under investigation for drug trafficking. In late November the national Head-Director of Bulgarian prisons, Mitko Dimitrov had his car driven into the ‘Prison Work’ garage within Sofia Central Prison. Immediately a raid was conducted by police from the Ministry of Interior (as opposed to guards of the prison from the Ministry of Justice). The personal car of Mitko Dimitrov was searched thoroughly as was the surrounding ‘Prison Work’ premises and numerous drugs and other contraband was found. It has been implied that this was in part a reason for Head-Director Mitko Dimitrov’s “early retirement”. Also to be noted, the office for the Head-Director Mitko Dimitrov is in the same building as the Director of Sofia Central Prison Peter Krestev.

With all of this mud flying around why does it stick better to some and not to others? Social-Inspector Atanasova with full antipathy has been allowed to continue her cover up of the mass rape and indeed so too have the entire administration of Sofia Central Prison. The prosecutors office has not replied, commented or investigated the matter, they obviously take their orders form the Sofia Central Prison’s administration. Nina Glavchovska, the manager of the state corporation ‘Prison Work’ who is implicated in the food pilfering out of the prison and the drug trafficking into the prison also remains untouched although the investigation into her involvement apparently continues.

For those of you who read the previous posts on this website, Asen Rusev Manef, the prisoner was badly beaten by the guards in Sofia Central Prison was found dead in his cell in Lovetch Prison, hanged to death. The police are calling in suicide, and although we have no information to the contrary we remain as you can imagine sceptical of the police findings Asen Rusev Manef died of his own hands. Needless to say the traumatic abuse he suffered at the hands of the Sofia Central staff greatly contributed to whatever psychological state he was in at the time.

Asen Rusev Manef always greeted you with a smile and a jig in his step. He was eager to please those around him, constantly shared his meals, smokes, coffee and sweets with other prisoners and was liked by many. Rest in peace Asen.

Despite all the horrible news coming from behind the walls of the Bulgarian prisons, the Association wishes all prisoners, their families and friends hope for Christmas and the new year.

Chairman

Jock Palfreeman

December 2012

Report for Bulgaria from CPT 2012

Report on the visit to Bulgaria carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 4 to 10 May 2012 is already published officialy on the website  of Council of Europe.

In pursuance of Article 7 of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention”), a delegation of the CPT visited Bulgaria from 4 to 10 May 20121.

The visit was one which appeared to the CPT “to be required in the circumstances” (cf. Article 7, paragraph 1, of the Convention). In the report on the 2010 visit, the CPT made several recommendations concerning the treatment and conditions of detention of persons held in Varna Prison. The information provided in the response of the Bulgarian authorities did not alleviate the Committee’s concerns about the above-mentioned issues and certain other problems highlighted in the report.

In addition, the Committee has recently received reports pointing to ever-worsening conditions in Varna Prison as well as to very poor conditions of detention in Burgas Prison, an establishment last visited by the CPT in 2002. The CPT therefore decided to visit Bulgaria in order to examine on the spot the steps taken by the authorities to implement the relevant recommendations of the Committee contained in the reports on previous visits, and in particular to examine the current treatment and conditions of detention of inmates held at Burgas and Varna Prisons.

The Bulgarian Government has requested the publication of this report
and of its response.

You can download a pdf. version below:

Report on Bulgaria by CPT

The Bulgarian Government’s response