The crime scene of Bobbie Tsankov's murder
Two people have been detained for 24 hours by police following the murder of former radio host Bobbie Tsankov in a Sofia central building at noon on January 5 2010.
The two people in question are Stefan "Sako" Bonev and Krassimir "The Big Margin" Marinov, police said. Police are still searching for Marinov's younger brother, Nikolai Marinov.
They were arrested a few hours after Tsankov was shot dead by two assassins while on the staircase of a building where Tsankov had a meeting with his lawyer. Tsankov's two assailants fled the scene and are still at large.
Tsankov was shot with five bullets, four to the body and the fifth to the head. His two companions were each shot twice and are recovering in hospital. Reportedly, their lives are not in danger.
After the murder, the first public assassination since the current Government of Boiko Borissov took office in July 2009, police searched offices and residential buildings belonging to Krassimir Marinov and his brother Nikolai Marinov, dubbed by the media as "The Big and the Little Margins".
The two brothers and several others are being investigated for ordering the murders of three individuals, two of whom have been killed. The case against them has been ongoing for years and was only stalled in December 2007 because of the poor health of one of the other defendants. The brothers were freed on 20 000 leva bail.
Their names are often linked by Bulgarian media to the underworld as some of the leaders of organised crime in the country. Speculation had it that Tsankov was on Marinov's payroll.
Stefan "Sako" Bonev, who was also arrested, first appeared in the media in November 2009 when Tsankov complained to police that Bonev, described in Bulgarian media reports as a drug baron, had chased Tsankov with his car in Sofia and had threatened him.
Following the complaint, Bonev was arrested and freed on 1000 leva bail. At the time, Tsankov said that the threats were linked to his as yet unpublished book on organised crime in Bulgaria.
Hours after Tsankov's death, Bonev told private national bTV channel that he had nothing to do with his murder, did not even know Tsankov personally and had never had any intention of threatening him.
Some commentators on Tsankov's murder suggested that he might have been killed in order to divert police attention to Bonev as a way of redistributing the drug market in Sofia.
Meanwhile, Lyudmil Rangelov, lawyer for Nikolai Marinov, told Bulgarian National Radio that speculation about Tsankov being a protected witness in the case against the Marinovi brothers was false.
He was referring to rumours that Tsankov had enjoyed some police protection in exchange for information on Bulgaria's underworld which Tsankov often claimed he knew very well.
In his book, which is already on the market, he said "I was part of the underworld". In the past few months he was a frequent guest on TV shows and wrote accounts of the Bulgarian underworld in one of the country's yellow papers.
However, in the opinion of many critics, most of his stories referred to people who are already dead. Furthermore, they were not based on solid proof or any investigative journalism but, rather, hearsay. In all cases Tsankov described himself as a direct participant and witness in the events he was describing which included money laundering, drug distribution and the plotting of murders.