Thursday, June 8, 2023

Death in the morning - Krasimir Kamenov

 Michael - Alternate Thursdays

Dynamic Duo
Ruja Ignatova and Krasimir Kamenov
Courtesy Daily Maverick

Unfortunately, South Africa has a deserved reputation for a high murder rate. Probably the only people happy about that are local crime writers although their Scandinavian counterparts don’t seem to find a high crime rate necessary for their work. (I once heard that more people are killed in a year in Iceland in mystery novels than the actual total number of violent deaths there.) So a multiple murder last month in an upmarket Cape Town suburb didn’t hold the headlines for long although it had some interesting twists. Four people were killed, shot at close range, a man and his wife, and two others who were later described as a bodyguard and a housekeeper.

Red notice

However, even before the victims were identified, it seemed that this was not in the “normal” category of break-in for burglary. It happened at around 8am, not the time violent crimes usually occur, and the police have not mentioned any obvious signs of robbery. However, one of the victims was Krasimir Kamenov, a Bulgarian with an Interpol red notice issued against him. Furthermore, the Bulgarian authorities had already announced that Kamenov was in South Africa and had requested assistance from the authorities here. So it seems likely that Kamenov was assassinated, and probably the others died because they were present. So the questions now are why Kamenov was killed, and what was he doing in South Africa? (The answers to those two questions will probably point to the people responsible.)

Ivan Geshev

Well, as to the first question, there seem to be a lot of possibilities. Kamenov had been accused of being behind an assassination plot aimed at Bulgaria’s Prosecutor General, Ivan Geshev. Geshev claims that an attempt was made to blow up his car (while he was in it). He has a reputation for taking on organized crime and cleaning things up, but his detractors say his reputation is undeserved and that the so-called assassination attempt was just a stunt. If so, maybe Geshev would be better off with Kamenov dead rather than spilling the beans? Then again, there seems no doubt that Kamenov was involved with all sorts of mafia-like activities. He is suspected of hits on rival gangs in Sophia’s “Pavlovo” district, known in the illegal underworld as the "Colombian Embassy" district. Maybe he thought he was safe in South Africa. Maybe not so much.

Forensics at the scene
Courtesy Daily Maverick

Then there is Ruja Ignatova. She remains on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list, although she was reportedly killed in 2018 on a yacht in the Ionian Sea. It seems she ran a billion dollar crypto currency scam out of Bulgaria and walked away with a lot of it. Well, maybe reports of her death are “greatly exaggerated” and she wants it to stay that way. Clearly, the FBI isn’t convinced. Her close associates? Yes, you guessed it - Krasimir Kamenov. Maybe he knows more about her “death” than she’d like him to know if he fell into the hands of that Bulgarian prosecutor. In that context, he was wanted for questioning about the murder of an ex-cop in Bulgaria who left notes discussing Ignatova’s “death.”

So with his Mafia antagonists, Beshev, and Ignatova all on his case, maybe the answer to why he was killed should be “why not?”

But why was he in South Africa? Well, if you are high up in a criminal hierarchy, want to carry on your business remotely, want an attractive, comfortable, and relatively safe place to hang out, you need a country where you can bribe people, one where the police are “negotiable”, and one with good connections to similar organizations to your own. It gives me no pleasure to confirm that South Africa fits that bill.

Anyone looking for a plot for a thriller?

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