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Prosecutors may seek extradition of thieves

Prosecutors could pursue extradition proceedings against two Bulgarian men if they successfully appeal against the “manifestly inadequate” sentences imposed on the duo.

Chavdar Bachev and Georgi Todorov were jailed for four months each after they admitted plundering nearly $20,000 from ATMs across the island using bogus gold credit cards.

The two men were released from their sentence on May 13 and are believed to have returned to their home country.

However, yesterday as the Department of Public Prosecutions outlined its case before the Court of Appeal, Larry Mussenden, Director of Public Prosecutions, said his department would pursue extradition proceedings against the two men if appeal judges found the original sentences to be “manifestly inadequate”.

“We ask the court to allow this appeal and leave it for the DPP and the Attorney General’s Chambers to consider all the other issues like extradition,” said Mr Mussenden. “The defendants should have to answer to the right sentence.”

Bachev, 42, and Todorov, 41, were caught red-handed with more than $19,000 in cash at the airport as they tried to leave the island after their crime spree in February of this year.

They stole $4,500 from HSBC, $4,100 from Butterfield Bank and $11,300 from Clarien using bogus credit cards that were later recovered from the ATMs. They had also wired $2,700 out of the country to a third party.

The duo later told police they had found a bag containing the credit cards as well as a stash of cash in a bus stop as they sheltered from the rain. They admitted to officers that they used the cards to steal from ATMs and “got greedy” before trying to flee the island.

During yesterday’s hearing, Mr Mussenden told the panel of appeal judges that the DPP took “huge exception” with comments made by sentencing judge Charles-Etta Simmons, who said the offences were “not the most serious”.

Prosecutor Loxly Ricketts told the court that Judge Simmons was wrong to classify the offences as crimes of opportunity and should not have considered the defendants’ separation from their family, repayment of the stolen cash and the fact they would not be eligible for early release because they were not Bermudian as mitigating factors.

“The focus should have been that the defendants were acting with the greatest forethought,” Mr Ricketts said.

Referring to the Bulgarians’ claims they had found the cards and the cash in a bus stop, Court of Appeal president Sir Scott Baker said: “It seems a surprising story.”

Referring to the Justice Simmons’s assertion that loss of family life was a mitigating factor the president added: “I find it difficult to see how it is a matter of mitigation if they chose to commit the offences in Bermuda.”

“It seemed to me there were only two matters of mitigation, their previous good character and the early guilty pleas. That is it.”

Richard Horseman, representing both Bachev and Todorov, maintained that the sentences passed were appropriate and that his client’s story was “a credible one”.

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment until later in the appeal session, which last two weeks.

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