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Bulgaria: Witness Saw Face Of Lukanov's Killer, Say Police

Sofia, 9 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Investigators probing the shooting death of former Bulgarian Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov said today that they have interviewed one witness who clearly saw the face of the killer.

Boyko Rashkov, chairman of Bulgaria's National Investigation Service, said a computer-assisted portrait of the suspect has been completed based upon descriptions by the witness. He said it would be published soon.

Investigators think the killer was alone when he shot Lukanov with a nine millimeter handgun last week outside his home in Sofia, said Rashkov. He would not comment on whether others may have been involved indirectly.

Lukanov's close friend and political ally, Socialist Party member Andrei Raichev, has publicly accused Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's ruling circle in the Socialist Party of being involved. Others speculate that the killing may have been related to Lukanov's connections with private business groups that control large sectors of the Bulgarian economy, including oil, concrete, insurance, casinos and private security firms.

Lukanov was a millionaire businessman and former Communist Party Central Committee member who seized power from dictator Todor Zhivkov in 1989. An autopsy revealed that Lukanov was shot three times in the back and once in the head. Rashkov said the weapon has not been recovered.