PRESS RELEASE: Prosecutors in Sredets Find That Dinko Valev Incited Discrimination, Hatred and Violence against Refugees, Forwards the Case to the Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office

The Regional Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Sredets (RPO Sredets) forwards the case regarding the actions of Gospodin Valev, also known as Dinko Valev, to the Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office, as it considers that there is sufficient evidence of a crime under Art. 162 (1) of the Criminal Code – incitement to discrimination, violence and hatred based on race, nationality, ethnicity, conducted in a continuing criminal offense, via speech and mass media. The case was formed after a public crime report by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.

RPO Sredets’ decree establishes that on February 14, 2016 Valev called the emergency telephone number 112 to report that on a dirt road between the villages of Dolno Yabalkovo and Belevren he arrested 16 foreign citizens: 15 adults and a child/baby. Valev said to the call center operators that he will “batter” and “do away with” one of the detainees. He can be heard also screaming in English “everyone down”. He also swore, threatened to kill “one [of these] gypsies” and stated: “I will beat them up a bit... will club them.”

According prosecutor Valentina Madzharova’s decree the overall behavior of Valev is discriminatory. “The discriminatory element is precisely the subjective reason why Valev performed the act insofar as there is no evidence that he suffers from mental illness,” she ruled. “In this case, given the subjective mental state, the facts allow the conclusion that Valev acted with formed stereotypical bias and prejudices. His actions are the result of his simplified idea of reality, attributing to refugees certain characteristics, simply because they are refugees and ignoring their individual qualities. Apart from this, he acted following pre-formulated general belief about the value of a particular social group – generally called refugees, built on direct or indirect assessment of it,” establishes prosecutor Madzharova. Statements by Valev that “Syrians, jihadists and the Taliban” are entering Bulgaria and that refugees are aggressive and the Bulgarian nation will disappear she qualifies as preaching or inciting hatred and discrimination within the meaning of Art. 162 (1) of the Criminal Code, as not only do they violate the dignity of the people from the affected community, but also create an intimidating, hostile,  degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for them. “It is very important to also emphasize the fact that the effect of Valev’s statements is significant as they were broadcasted by national electronic media and in Facebook, and hence they reached a large audience,” rules prosecutor Madzharova. “[The right to freedom of expression] includes the expression of an opinion and its dissemination, but it is not absolute and carries special duties and responsibilities. Thus it may be limited for the protection of the rights and reputation of others. In particular, the freedom of expression does not include the promotion of hatred, animosity, hostility or humiliation on the grounds of ethnicity, race, and religion and on other grounds.”

RPO Sredets considers that the result of this crime was achieved through bringing these discriminatory statements to the attention of others, i.e. with Valev’s statements being broadcasted by the television channel bTV, based in Sofia. For this reason, RPO Sredets forwards the case to the Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office under whose jurisdiction it is to rule.

“With her ruling prosecutor Madzharova demonstrated due institutional behavior of high social need: she recognized the objective reality of criminal hate speech against vulnerable people in Bulgaria. Institutional recognition of this reality is an indispensable condition for justice,” said Margarita Ilieva, attorney at law and Director of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee’s Legal Program.

On April 12th this year, again on bTV, Dinko Valev stated that he was “fired up” by the support and gratitude expressed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to one of the refugee-hunting vigilante groups on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. The Prime Minister made this statement on April 10th in Burgas. He told journalists he instructed the head of Border Police to reward one of the illegal vigilante groups and even personally called them to express his gratitude. As a result BHC, supported by 41 citizens, filed a crime report about the Prime Minister’s open encouragement of these groups. The refusal of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office to initiate pre-trial proceedings regarding the Prime Minister’s statements was challenged by human rights activists and citizens. ♦