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Developments in the case of Captain Svetlozar Sobadzhiev, arrested in Panama for narcotics trafficking

24 October 2012 News


A few days after a Bulgarian diplomat visited Panama, Bulgarian citizen Svetlozar Sobadzhiev, who had been detained for drug trafficking, gave evidence in pre-trial proceedings on October 23 2012. The Honorary Consul of the Republic of Bulgaria in Panama, Claudia Lisichkov, was attested as a translator in the case.


On the instructions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Bulgarian Consul in Mexico, Emil Samardzhiev, visited Panama from October 16 to 19 to get an update on information on the case of Captain Sobadzhiev. 


Consul Samardzhiev spoke with Captain Sobadzhiev’s lawyer, who was hired through the Council of American Master Mariners. He met the Secretary General of the Public Prosecution office in Panama, Ramses M Barrera Paredes, and Javier Carabello, head of the specialist unit for crimes related to drug trafficking.


Consul Samardzhiev visited Panamanian prison headquarters and spoke with the Director-General of the prison system, Ángel Calderón, and Vielka Gonzales, head of legal affairs. At the request of the Consul, prisons management will ensure a medical check-up of Captain Sobadzhiev and any necessary medical treatment.


Consul Samardzhiev visited Captain Sobadzhiev in La Joya prison to brief him on the result on the talks in connection with the investigations conducted. The Bulgarian is being held in a special section of the prison for foreigners.


Captain Sobadzhiev was arrested on March 29 2011 after the ship that he was commanding, the MV Maas Trader, was found to have 169 kilograms of cocaine aboard. From the outset of the case, full support has been given by the Bulgarian Embassy in Mexico and the Honorary Consul of Bulgaria in Panama, Claudia Lisichkov. The main obstacle to the start of the trial was the refusal to Captain Sobadzhiev to testify because there was no certified translator in Panama from Bulgarian to Spanish and vice versa.


Under Panamanian law, if found guilty, the accused may be sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. The limit to the period of pretrial remand is the minimum sentence prescribed by statute, 10 years.

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