Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office issued EAW against Russian nationals accused of terrorism

30 January 2024

Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office is leading an investigation into pre-trial proceedings, initiated on 22nd April 2021 for a crime under Art. 108 a, para 1 of the Criminal Code – terrorism. Subject of the pre-trial investigation are four explosions, carried out in the time period between 2011 and 2020 in ammunition warehouses located on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.

In the course of the casework, numerous investigative actions were carried out, European investigation orders were executed, operational – search activities were carried out by the State Agency for National Security. It was established due to these actions that Bulgaria had been visited by six Russian nationals under false identities. The Russian nationals were involved in the explosion of the products of a commercial company for arms manufacturing.

In connection with the above, the six Russian nationals were accused in 2021 of a crime under Art. 108a, para. 1 of the Criminal Code - terrorism. A measure of procedural coercion was imposed on the accused persons - detention for up to 72 hours, and European arrest warrants were issued.

Pursuant to the transitional provision of § 9. (1) of the Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Extradition and European Arrest Warrant Act (EEAWA), in force from 05.12.2023, the European Arrest Warrants issued by a prosecutor up to that moment, whose issuance is not based on a judicial act and on which there is no ruling by the executing authority of a member state, shall be withdrawn by the issuing authority within 14 days from the entry into force of the above mentioned law. The supervising prosecutors have withdrawn the issued European arrest warrants, which were not issued on the basis of a judicial act. Immediately after that, the supervising prosecutors submitted a request to the Sofia City Court (SCC) following the new provision of Art. 56a, para. 1 of the EEAWA for granting permission to issue a European Arrest Warrant against the accused persons.

The SCC found that "the chronology of the procedural-investigative actions carried out indicates that during the last three years the activity of gathering evidence was apparently dynamic and comprehensive. During this activity, the six individuals, for whom the issuance of a permission is requested, were brought as accused persons, procedural-investigative actions and operational-search measures were carried out, in order to verify suspicions whether Bulgarian citizens were complicit in this criminal activity, and a lot of evidence was collected in relation to the six accused persons.

In connection with the above, the SCC has granted permission the SCPO to issue European Arrest Warrants against the six accused. The ruling of the SCC has been appealed to the Sofia Court of Appeal (SAC). In a court session, the SAC found: “The court agrees with the opinion of the first instance that, despite the extremely large volume of evidentiary materials, the evidence of the authorship of the act for each of the wanted persons is limited and is based on indirect evidentiary sources, which undoubtedly at the moment form a logical chain, related to their (of the wanted persons') known behavior - arrival, departure from the country, accommodation, making contacts with the enterprises in which, in a very short period of time after their departure, explosions were carried out with serious consequences" The SAC confirmed the ruling of the SCC authorizing the SCPO to issue European Arrest Warrants against the accused.

Based on the court rulings, the SCPO issued European Arrest Warrants against six Russian nationals accused of terrorism.