Bulgaria rejects media reports of migrant shooting at Turkish border

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews  with AP
Wire border fence is seen from the village of Shtit in Bulgaria, near the border with Turkey.
Wire border fence is seen from the village of Shtit in Bulgaria, near the border with Turkey.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Hristo Rusev, File

Bulgaria's government has rejected allegations that its border guards shot a refugee at the Turkish border.

Media reports claim that a Syrian asylum seeker was shot while trying to cross into Bulgaria in early October.

Video of the alleged incident was released on Monday as part of a joint investigation led by Lighthouse Reports.

The Bulgarian interior ministry has denied the accusations and says that its border guards strictly followed international and domestic laws.

In the footage, recorded on the Turkish side of the border, a young man falls to the ground after seemingly being shot his hand and into his chest.

Days later in a separate recording, he identified himself as a 19-year-old Syrian migrant and claimed that he was shot by Bulgarian border officers after his group was caught illegally entering and was pushed back into Turkey.

“There are no cases of violence against migrants,” Bulgarian Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev told reporters, confirming that the incident had been investigated.

“There are clear conclusions from both [Bulgaria and Turkey] that there is no evidence that a shot was fired by a Bulgarian border policeman and that no active actions have been taken to violate anyone’s human rights,” he added.

Demerdzhiev also said that Bulgarian border forces have faced more aggression from people trying to illegally enter the country.

Last month, officials reported that a Bulgarian police officer was shot dead by an unidentified person at the border with Turkey. In August, two police officers were also killed when they were hit by a bus carrying migrants.

“If anyone expects that the Bulgarian police will not respond to such actions, they are wrong,” Demerdzhiev stated on Monday.

On Tuesday, a European Commission spokeswoman told reporters that Brussels expects Bulgarian authorities to investigate any allegations and to follow up swiftly and effectively.

“We take all allegations of any wrongdoings at the European border seriously, and violence and loss of life is unacceptable,” she added.