At least two gunmen opened fire on Tsankov, 30, author of a
book and newspaper articles on reputed crime figures, and two other men on busy
Aleksandur Stamboliiski Boulevard in downtown Sofia around 12:30 p.m. Tsankov
died at the scene while the other two men–identified by the daily Dnevnik as Tsankov’s bodyguards–were
hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
prosecutor Nikolai Kokinov told reporters that 15 bullet casings had been found
at the crime scene.
Late the same day, a Ministry of Internal Affairs task force
arrested two reputed crime bosses, Stefan (“Sako,” or “the Jacket”) Bonev and
Krasimir Marinov, local press reports said. Authorities said they were also
seeking Marinov’s brother, Nikolai. Krasimir Marinov was freed January 17 but
ordered not to leave the country.
Authorities said they suspected the Marinov brothers of
ordering the murder but offered no information as to the motive or the gunmen,
according to local press reports. The news website Mediapool, citing unofficial sources, said Tsankov was to testify
in court against the Marinov brothers in a money-laundering case.
From September 2009 until days before his murder, Tsankov
wrote a series of articles in the tabloid Weekend
that purported to reveal the activities of Bulgarian crime figures, according
to local press reports. The latest article, published January 1, alleged that
reputed crime boss Meto Ilienski had ordered the killing of a rival, Zhoro
Tsankov had made similar accusations in November 2009 on the
popular Nova Televiziya show “Goreshto” (Hot). The show’s host, Veneta Raikova,
said she had talked with Tsankov the day before he was killed to discuss
details of another appearance, the Sofia News Agency reported. Raikova said she
understood Tsankov was going to reveal details about the recent killings of
three other Bulgarian crime chiefs, the news agency reported.
One of the suspects, Bonev, was arrested in November 2009 after
allegations he had threatened Tsankov during and after a wild car chase through
the streets of
At the time, the journalist said Bonev had told him not to publish anything
about Ilienski. Bonev was freed on bail after the 2009 episode.
In his book The
Secrets of the Gangsters, published in December 2009, Tsankov claimed to
have had close relationships with several crime bosses who were killed in
recent years. He was preparing a new book about the activities of a
drug-trafficking group, press reports said.
A former Viva Radio host, Tsankov gained notoriety several
years earlier after a number of people accused him of taking money for
advertising that he did not air, according to press reports. In June 2006, a
Tsankov of fraud and gave him a three-year suspended sentence, the daily 24 Chasa reported. Tsankov also survived
two explosions, in 2003 and 2004, at his home. According to local press
reports, Tsankov had more than 70 pending fraud cases at the time of the