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Suspect In Murder Of Bulgarian Journalist Extradited To Sofia From Germany

Slain Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova

A man suspected of raping and murdering Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova was extradited from Germany to Bulgaria on October 17, officials say.

Media broadcasts showed police vehicles meeting a plane carrying the suspect, identified as Bulgarian Severin Krasimirov, 20, at the Sofia airport.

The body of Marinova, 30, was found near a jogging path next to the Danube River in the northern town of Ruse on October 6.

Authorities said that she died from blows to the head and suffocation, and that she had also been raped. The case has shocked Bulgaria and drawn strong international condemnation.

Although many commentators have suggested a connection between the crime and Marinova's work, investigators say they have seen no evidence to support this theory.

The suspect initially fled to Romania and later traveled to Germany, where several of his relatives live.

Krasimirov was arrested in the northern German town of Stade on October 9.

German investigators said Krasimirov admitted having an argument with the victim and punching her in the face after he'd been drinking and using drugs, but he denied raping or robbing her.

However, Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, told Nova TV on October 16 that the evidence pointing to Krasimirov was "more than solid."

Bulgarian police said they found the man's DNA on Marinova, and items belonging to her were also found at his home in Ruse.

From Sofia, Krasimirov was to be transferred to police detention in Ruse, over 300 kilometers northeast of the capital. From there, he was expected to undergo DNA and psychiatric tests before being officially indicted.

Tsatsarov has said that Krasimirov will be charged with rape and intentional murder perpetrated in an extremely vicious manner. If convicted, he risks a maximum sentence of life without parole.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters