A Bulgarian appeals court resumes on Monday the trial against the alleged mobsters Krasimir and Nikolay Marinovi aka The Marguin Brothers with the testimonies of the last witnesses, which are expected to bring the case to a near close.
Two of the witnesses - alleged criminal Dimitar Vuchev aka Dembi and Ivo Ilchev - are expected to be brought by force during the court session on February 14 after failing to appear the previous time.
On June 14, 2010, the Sofia City Court issued a non-guilty verdict for the Marguins, who were charged with plotting murders.
The Court also changed Krasimir Marinov's bail to recognizance and lifted the European search warrant for Nikolay Marinov, who disappeared right after the January murder of controversial radio host, Bobi Tsankov.
The rule came in the aftermath of the prosecutor asking for a record-high verdict – 22 years behind bars for all 6 defendants, who are charged with plotting 3 murders.
Krasimir Marinov aka the Big Marguin pleaded not guilty while Nikolay Marinov, the Little Marguin, was tried in his absence.
The Marguin brothers are reputed to be some of the biggest mafia bosses in Bulgaria. They are also publicly known as being among the leaders of the SIC corporation - allegedly one of Bulgaria's two powerful mafia structures in the 1990s.
The SIC group appeared in the mid-90s as the rival of the first large-scale mafia structure in Bulgaria after 1989, called VIS. In the late-90s and the first years after 2000, VIS and SIC were oftentimes at war, and many of the gangland killings in Bulgaria are attributed to this conflict. After 2000, the two major mafia groups in Bulgaria are believed to have been transformed into other smaller-scale entities and legal businesses.
The Marguin Brothers were charged with organizing a criminal group and plotting the murders of Nikola Damyanov, and Ivan Todorov aka The Doctor (a large-scale mafia boss specialized at international cigarettes contraband), and of General Lyuben Gotsev (who survived the attempt on his life).
The case has been dragging on for nearly five years already and has been postponed on several occasions over the ailing health of one of the defendants.
Over the course of the trial, the magistrates heard numerous testimonies, including of two of the three alleged victims, but of the entire line of witnesses only one talked about some possible connection between the brothers and the murder plots.
After the verdict, the Sofia City Prosecutor, Nikolay Kokinov, and his Deputy, Roman Vassilev, announced their decision to appeal.
Bulgaria's Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, blamed, once again, the judicial system for the acquittal of alleged crime bosses.
At the end of July, the Court released its motives for the June 2010 acquittal of the two notorious brothers. They all revolved over the lack of solid evidence.
On December 17, the Sofia Court of Appeals launched the appeal trial against the notorious brothers.