Man convicted of rape in Bulgaria, is arrested in Malta

A Schengen Information System Alert and a European Arrest Warranthad been issues in Bulgaria against the accused

Maltese police, acting on the SIS alert, had discovered that the wanted man resided in Zabbar
Maltese police, acting on the SIS alert, had discovered that the wanted man resided in Zabbar

A man convicted of rape in Bulgaria has been arrested in Malta on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant issued against him. 

The requested person Tencho Gospodinov Tenev, 47, from Bulgaria, sat in the dock, assisted by lawyer Roberto Montalto and two interpreters.

Inspector Mark Galea from the police’s International Relations Unit took the stand before magistrate Leonard Caruana, explaining how a Schengen Information System Alert and a European Arrest Warrant for Tenez’s arrest had been issued by prosecutor Anton Petkov Ivanov from Bulgaria in July 2020. Tenez is wanted to serve a prison sentence in his home country.

Maltese police, acting on the SIS alert, had discovered that the wanted man resided in Zabbar. He was subsequently taken into custody.

The magistrate, addressing the man directly, explained that the warrant had been issued in view of a three-year prison sentence issued against him by the Bulgarian courts in Svilengrad in March 2013, after Tenev was convicted of rape.

Tenev replied that he understood the warrant’s content, but said he disagreed with the Bulgarian authorities’ request, pointing out that it related to an incident which allegedly occurred nearly ten years ago.

His lawyer, Roberto Montalto, confirmed to the magistrate that the man in the dock was the same person indicated in the EAW. 

Tenev did not consent to being transferred to the custody of the Bulgarian authorities. Montalto requested bail for his client.

This was objected to by the prosecution, on the grounds that he was wanted after being convicted of rape.

“There is no presumption of innocence in this case, here the person has already been found guilty and so it would be illogical to release him on bail.”

Montalto said that this argument had its merits. However, he pointed out that in the 10 years, the Bulgarian authorities had to act on the case, they started during the ninth year. “The requested person has been living in Malta for the past six years and over.” He had relocated to Malta with his wife and daughter and was regularly employed here, paying taxes and national insurance contributions.

“He cannot be said to be a person unlawfully at large. He was not in hiding but he was simply not in his home country.”

Montalto argued that it was “manifestly not the case,” that Tenev had appeared more than twice in the Bulgarian proceedings against him, during which he had not been represented by a lawyer of his choosing.

His life is in Malta, said the lawyer, and it doesn’t appear to be vital that he be remanded in custody during these proceedings, which are normally decided speedily.

The court, after hearing the parties’ submissions on the bail request, observed that in the circumstances where the requested person was facing an effective prison sentence and that in spite of the fact that this person had been living in Malta, was on the run from the requesting country.

Bail was denied.

The court ordered that the acts of the case be sent to the registrar of courts to be assigned for an extradition hearing.