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Writer Georgi Stoev's dies in suspected mafia killing


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ON the day he died Georgi Stoev, the author, knew he did not have long to live. “Something’s going to happen,” he told his lawyer as he left a cafe in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, shortly after midday last Monday.


Seconds later he was lying fatally wounded in the street in front of the Pliska hotel in the centre of the city. He had been hit by three bullets.


This weekend police were investigating the theory that Stoev had been hunted by one of the characters from his nine crime books, including three about the country’s mafia “godfathers”.


Stoev, 35, claimed that his books, which mixed fact and fiction to reveal the secrets of some of the country’s most notorious crimes, were based on his own experiences in the formative years of the ruthless Bulgarian mafia in the 1990s.


As a teenager training to be a wrestler he attended Sofia’s “Olympic Hopes” school. With the collapse of communism in 1989 the school was closed and the wrestlers formed a gang that has become one of the most dangerous in Europe. Stoev later turned his back on the mafia and began to write.


In a country renowned for brutal contract killings, he took the startling decision to expose alleged mafia characters in his books, making no attempt to disguise their identities.


In Godfather 3, Stoev wrote about a prominent secret service officer and politician. “This is the book that will get me killed,” he told his publisher when he handed over the manuscript.


In another Godfather book, Stoev wrote about an alleged mafia boss who had supposedly offered him £240,000 to kill an underworld figure. According to the novel, Stoev refused and went to the police. He knew the risks: another witness against this man had “got a bullet in the head”, he wrote.


Stoev’s publisher, Dimitar Zlatkov, claimed the interior ministry was a “moral killer” for failing to protect him. This is denied by the ministry, which claims Stoev had refused to testify and had exaggerated his mafia past.


What is clear is that Stoev had become convinced that he was about to die. In the weeks before he was shot he told the press he would be murdered. “My life is in danger. I’ve been protecting myself but now there is a serious threat,” he said on a television show.


According to his editor, Stoev, the divorced father of a seven-year-old daughter, had hired bodyguards and frequently changed his car and telephone number.


On Thursday he was buried in a private funeral at Bistrica, nine miles outside Sofia. The public prosecutor’s office said it will question three mafia bosses featured in his books.


Stoev’s killer is unlikely to face justice. His murder is one of more than 150 contract killings in seven years - with no convictions.



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