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Court overrules sentence against police officer who saved the national flag from desecration

Date: 25.11.2008

The Military Court of Appeals has overruled Sliven Regional Military Court's judgement against police officer Mitko Chavdarov who was charged with assault and battery of more than one person while on duty, Bulgarian news agency Focus said on November 24 2008.

Chavdarov's case provoked many reactions in Bulgaria, from people in his home village of Boyadji  – near Yambol – through to nationalist politicians and media. All were firmly supportive of Chavdarov.

As The Sofia Echo reported on October 2 2008, Chavdarov was ordered to pay 1000 leva to a group of Roma who claimed that he had beaten them up while on duty.

According to media reports – that differed on what had actually happened – Chavdarov stumbled  upon a group of Roma men while they were climbing a flag pole in the Boyadzjik's school yard and tearing up the tricolour. The young men were frantically racing to the top of the pole.

There is no evidence that Chavdarov mistreated any of the Roma men that night. The next morning, Chavdarov called them to his office to give testimony about the incident. Following that meeting, four of the Roma presented medical statements indicating that light body injuries had been sustained during the time they spent in Chavdarov's office.

The policeman was accused of assault and battery against more than one person while on duty.
At the same time, the prosecutor's office in Yambol has refused to bring an accusation against the Roma for desecrating the Bulgarian flag.

A pre-trial investigation was launched against the young men weeks later.

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