EU PROTECTS > Our Safety > To catch a criminal: How the EU helped Germany and Bulgaria bring a murderer to justice

In 2016, the European Arrest Warrant was used to resolve around 5,812 cross-border criminal cases.

On 6 October 2018, Viktoria Marinova, a 30-year-old TV presenter, went jogging in a park in Ruse, Bulgaria. Her body was discovered by a passer-by later that day, but her killer had already fled the country. On 9 October, Bulgarian authorities issued an EU-wide alert for the suspect’s arrest. Before the day was over, the fugitive had been found in Germany. No more than 11 days after the crime, he was returned to Bulgaria, where he was later sentenced to 30 years in jail for murder.

German authorities were able to help their Bulgarian colleagues thanks to an arrest warrant that is valid Europe-wide and direct, uninterrupted communication through the EU’s secure information-sharing system.

To catch a criminal: How the EU helped Germany and Bulgaria bring a murderer to justice

In a criminal investigation, it is essential to act quickly. In Europe, special systems and networks enable police and security authorities from different countries to make fast decisions that stop criminals from slipping through the cracks. This is the story of how Germany and Bulgaria used EU-wide systems to catch and extradite a dangerous fugitive in under 2 weeks.

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Georgi Georgiev

District Prosecutor’s Office in Ruse

Bulgaria

“I was one of 2 prosecutors supervising the Marinova murder case. Right away, my team reviewed the evidence on the murder suspect: his Bulgarian address; video footage of him near the crime scene; clothing and other crime-scene objects that might contain DNA evidence.”

“We were ready to request an arrest, but we had reason to believe that the Bulgarian suspect was in Germany. We needed Germany’s support if we were going to catch a dangerous criminal on the run. That’s why my team issued a European Arrest Warrant on 9 October 2018.”

“We issued an arrest warrant that was valid Europe-wide. Otherwise, we’d have had no hope of bringing the fugitive to justice.”

 - Georgi Georgiev

Kalina Kalcheva-Aleksandrova

National Coordinator for SIRENE (a network that relays information from the Schengen Information System [SIS])

Bulgaria

“I got involved when the Bulgarian investigation team asked us to issue an alert to track the movements of the murder suspect, who had already left Bulgarian territory. Soon after, it was confirmed he was moving towards Germany, so the Bulgarian Prosecutor issued a European Arrest Warrant. We transmitted it to the German authorities as a matter of urgency.”

“Through the EU’s secure information-sharing system, used by police forces across Europe, we transferred all available information about the suspect to our German counterparts in order to help them arrest the suspect.” 

“Thanks to the EU’s information-sharing system, we continued to pursue the suspect, even when he left Bulgaria.

 - Kalina Kalcheva-Aleksandrova

Lars Lau

National Coordinator for SIRENE (a network that relays information from the Schengen Information System [SIS])

Germany

“When we received the arrest alert from Bulgarian authorities, we immediately opened a case to find the murder suspect here in Germany. I coordinated the local police units, so they could plan and carry out the arrest.”

“Whatever our Bulgarian colleagues sent us, through the EU’s information-sharing system (SIS), we handed over to the district police. We also passed on a request from Bulgarian police to get the suspect examined by medical doctors for forensic evidence.”

“The EU’s information-sharing system helped us work closely with Bulgaria and make an arrest quickly.”

 - Lars Lau

Carsten Witt

Stade Police department

Germany

“On 9 October 2018, I was at home when I got the call around 22.00. My colleagues had surrounded the suspect at his mother’s house. They were about to arrest him.”

“I stayed on the phone, instructing them to check the apartment and, as requested by Bulgaria, get doctors to examine the suspect. The next morning, I questioned the suspect at our office. With the European Arrest Warrant, we could bring him before a judge, who ordered the suspect’s return to Bulgaria on 17 October.”

“Following the EU-wide alert, we arrested the suspect and organised his transfer back to Bulgaria.”

 - Carsten Witt

Did you know?

2004

The year the EU created the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which is valid in all 28 EU countries. Since then, the EAW has helped catch many criminals; for example: one of the perpetrators of the November 2015 Paris attacks, a German serial killer in Spain, a Maltese drug smuggler in the UK.

61,900

The number of arrests made in another EU country since 2013 thanks to information passed through the SIS.

15.8

The average number of days it takes to extradite a suspect from one EU country to another with an EAW, when the person has consented to the surrender.

5.2 billion

The number of times border, customs and police authorities checked the Schengen Information System (SIS) in 2017. The SIS is one of the EU’s secure information-sharing systems, and it is widely used by national authorities and EU agencies in criminal investigations and border management all over Europe.

240,000

The number of cases in which the police found stolen objects - including vehicles, travel documents and firearms - based on information received through the SIS.

30

The number of European countries using the SIS. These are 26 EU countries, plus Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. These countries have specialised national contact points (called SIRENE bureaux) to manage the exchange of SIS information and alerts (including EAWs) among police forces all over Europe.

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