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Final attempt to solve Markov umbrella killing
FINAL ATTEMPT TO SOLVE MARKOV UMBRELLA KILLING
Date: 20/07/2008
Source: guardian.co.uk

Scotland Yard detectives have twice visited Bulgaria in three months in a final attempt to solve the murder of Georgi Markov, in which the Bulgarian dissident was jabbed with a poisoned umbrella while waiting for a London bus in 1978.

A team from the Metropolitan police travelled to Sofia in April 2007, then in March this year and again last month, in the hope of identifying the assassin before Bulgaria's 30-year statute of limitation expires in September.

Last night, a spokeswoman said: "The inquiry remains open and has been particularly complex. We continue to work with the appropriate authorities to investigate any new information that is passed or made available to police."

The Bulgarian newspaper Dnevnik reported that Scotland Yard requested access to archives and permission to interview 40 witnesses, including former secret police.

The murder remains one of the most enduring mysteries of the cold war. Markov was an opposition activist and BBC broadcaster who had survived two previous assassination attempts. Waiting at a bus stop on Waterloo Bridge, he felt a pain in his thigh and saw a man pick up an umbrella. Three days later he was dead. A postmortem found a tiny pellet in his thigh, dosed with the poison ricin.

After the Bulgarian regime collapsed in 1989 a stack of the umbrellas, modified to fire pellets, was found in its interior ministry. In 1992, General Vladimir Todorov, a former intelligence chief, was sentenced to 16 months in jail in Bulgaria for destroying files relating to the killing. Gen Stoyan Savov, the deputy interior minister, killed himself before facing trial. Vasil Kotsev, believed to be the operational commander, died in an unexplained car accident.



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