Six years after Yambol taxi driver Apostol Valchev was shot by two customers, the case is still not over. Another hearing is scheduled for today at the Burgas Court of Appeal.
We remind you that the attack on Apostol Valchev took place on December 11, 2017. Since then, the case has been heard by the District Court-Yambol, twice in the Court of Appeal-Burgas, twice in the Supreme Court of Cassation, now again – for the third time in Burgas.
The initial sentences of Simeon Milkov and Kostadin Stoyanov from the Yambol District Court in 2019 were 16 years in prison and 4.5 years, respectively, as Stoyanov was a minor at the time of the crime.
After the re-examination by the second panel of the Appellate Court – Burgas, in March 2022, the sentence was amended, and the act was reclassified as attempted robbery, accompanied by moderate bodily injury. The sentences were reduced to 8 years “imprisonment” for Simeon Dimitrov and to 2 years and 4 months “imprisonment” for Kostadin Stoyanov. The judgment was affirmed in its remaining part. The three-member panel of the Supreme Court accepted as valid the arguments of the private prosecution for the existence of contradictory, even mutually exclusive, arguments in the grounds of the appellate decision regarding the interpretation of the evidence and the drawing of conclusions about legally significant facts, having a direct impact on the conclusions concerning the objective and especially the subjective side of the act, they report from there. According to the supreme judges, in its desire to interpret the facts in a direction that allowed it to draw different conclusions from those of the first instance regarding the defendants’ intent, the appellate court relied on one evidentiary source – the defendants’ explanations of their intentions regarding the physical and mental impact of of the victim, and ignored a large part of the evidence, also related to the subjective side of the act – the data about the weapon used, about the previously created organization – choosing a place and time of the day, organizing an ambush, hiding Kostadin Stoyanov, his role to shoot with a rifle in the victim’s body and in a vital part, his distance from the place where the driver was, the pistol and the knife with which Simeon Dimitrov was armed. Circumstances related to the objective clarification of the relevant facts have been ignored, namely the information that as a student at the sports school, Kostadin Stoyanov attended shooting courses and learned to shoot a rifle. The same were discussed by the first court, but were silenced by the appellate instance, which demonstrated a lack of objectivity and correctness of the evidentiary analysis. The supreme judges were categorical that by rejecting the trial court’s legal assessment of the presence of a direct (in this case – alternative) intention on the part of the defendants to cause the death of the victim as a way to take his money, the appellate court ignored a significant part of the circumstances presented , reaching the absurd conclusion that their intention was only to scare him, in which they caused him medium bodily harm.
“The reproduction of the shot in question in intensity is sufficient to cause a fatal outcome if specialized medical assistance is not provided in time. This hypothesis is not just about assuming the outcome as possible, because under this assumption, expressed in indifference, resignation to the more severe additional outcome, there is some degree of probability of the occurrence of the consequences, a possibility that does not define the outcome as inevitable. . In the present case, the defendants were quite clearly aware that, along with the directly aimed result, the more serious one would also positively occur. The failure to fire a second shot, as well as the fact that the victim “after the shooting was conscious and able to make active and purposeful movements”, which gave him the opportunity to escape and seek medical attention, such as was provided to him, are not facts, which can be interpreted in favor of judgments about the lack of direct intent in the actions of the perpetrators, it is written in the reasons.
It is indicated that no protest was filed by the prosecution in front of the Supreme Court expressing dissatisfaction with the appellate decision to reduce the sentences of the two defendants.
The supreme judges also noted that the prohibition of reformatio in pejus applies to Kostadin Stoyanov (an additional procedural guarantee for the right to defense, which ensures the freedom of the defendant to appeal without fear of worsening his own situation. The prohibition of worsening the situation of the defendant is refers both to the decision-making powers of the court,
carrying out institutional control, as well as to those bodies that will decide the case upon its return as a result of the actions of
the reviewing courts.). Even in the case of a possible decision of the court to correct the facts, conditioning the application of a law for a more serious punishable crime, for which there was an accusation before the first court, this would not have consequences regarding the defendant Kostadin Stoyanov.
What the Burgas Court of Appeal will decide again and whether there will be a meeting at all today will become clear at 11:30 a.m. So far, the third case on the case in the Burgas Court of Appeal was postponed 6 times.